Gary White is a 55 year old genuine friend, and during his lifetime has built a trucking business through sweat and honest hard work. That is not to say he did not have a checkered past as I remember meeting him when he was age 14 where he was often on the wrong side of the law, generally joy-riding in cars to impress his peers that all lived in the tough neighborhood of Reservoir, a Melbourne suburb.
Over the past 38 years I have met up with Gary on a number of social occasions; reunion, wedding, birthdays, holidays etc. Over that period Gary has matured and become a stable family man who is extremely generous and has maintained his trusting nature. Unfortunately it is that trusting trait, and his lifelong desire to impress that has led him to the trouble he is in today.
When I was told that Gary had been arrested for murder I remember thinking this must be some bad joke. That was the way Gary interpreted the charge as well, and he was confident that he would be acquitted. What he didn't count on was a number of unscrupulous people who did not care about the law, and set about destroying the life of a fellow human being, knowing all the while that he was not guilty. The motive of these people was one of personal glory, promotion and political agenda. For their actions they are the ones that should be in gaol.
My own personal belief is that the evidence was concocted to pressure Gary to "roll over" on some of the Gypsy Jokers, but in Gary's own words, "how can you inform on someone when you don't know anything about their business." They offered immunity, financial incentives, and entry into the witness protection program on many occasions, but Gary kept telling the police that he did not know anything of the Gypsy Jokers dealings or activities. When he was unable to provide the police with any information they went ahead with the charade called a trial to get some runs on the board to justify the task force's expensive existence knowing full well that he was innocent.
Affiliation with Gypsy Jokers
Throughout the whole saga the police have made a point to portray Gary as a member of the Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club. They have used the words "affiliate" or "associate" when describing his involvement. But if you have a friend who is a card carrying member of the Liberal political party, is it a fair assumption to call you an "affiliate" of the Liberal party? Definitely not!
Through Gary's trucking business he struck up a professional relationship with a chap called Les Hoddy, a founding member (in 1970) of the Gypsy Jokers. Their relationship was one of close co-operation as Les also had his own trucking business. From that a friendship did evolve, but for the record, Gary was never a member of the Gypsy Jokers. He did not attend meetings or was he privy to any of their dealings of any kind. On a couple of occasions he was invited to the club house by Les but had to be strictly escorted by a member at all times. Hardly what I would call a member.
Association with Sidney Reid
I asked Gary to detail in his own words how he came to be associated with Sidney Reid, the man on whose sole evidence he was convicted. Following are his own words.
"I first met Reid late in 2000 or early 2001 when he was granted bail on assault and other serious charges. As a result of these charges he was granted bail on the condition that he no longer lived in Kalgoorlie. He moved to the Perth suburb of Maddington, and as a favour to my friend Les Hoddy I allowed Reid to move two shipping containers into my transport depot.
Reid had the run of the yard. By this I mean he had his own keys and was free to come and go whenever he liked. At this time Reid was a patched member of the Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club, and I became quite friendly with him. He would sometimes work on my trucks and trailers in lieu of rent, an arrangement we set up prior to him moving into my yard. However, I came home one night to find some police and other people in the front area of the yard. I was approached by one of the officers who asked me about a container that was situated on the back of a truck in my yard. I told the police that I'd been up in the goldfields for a few days in one of my own trucks and had only got back that afternoon. I informed them I didn't know who owned the truck or the container. The police then had a conversation with the supposed owner which I was not privy to. The officers then came over to me and told me they were going to check my story out and get back to me. They never did.
The following morning I tracked Reid down and asked him what he knew about the truck and container. He told me that he'd stolen and painted it and that he was waiting for someone to collect it. I told him that I didn't want him doing that kind of shit around my yard. He gave me his word it would not happen again and as far as I was concerned that was it.
However a month or so later, I'd been away again, this time to Mt Newman, and upon my return I found three Holden utes in the yard. I immediately phoned Reid and asked him about them, he assured me that they were all legitimate and he was getting paid to do work on them. I didn't believe him. I told him so and told him to get them out of the yard, which he did that day. I subsequently found out they were all stolen.
My relationship with Reid at that stage was one of suspicion. He'd asked me to ring Les one night. It was a Tuesday night and he wanted me to tell Les that his car was broken down and that he wouldn't be able to make it back for some commitment he had in Maddington that night. I refused to do this as he was driving my almost new car, and I knew it to be a lie.
Later Reid asked to borrow $10000 from me. When I asked him what he needed it for he told me it was to pay his solicitor. I was hesitant at first but agreed so long as I went with him to pay the solicitor. His solicitor was Robert Mazza and I drove into Mazza's office where I handed over $5000 dollars. When I asked him what he wanted the rest of the money for he told me that the Club was on his back and that he needed to get his bike going. I said ok and we went and picked up his bike parts.
Due his use of drugs my relationship with Reid soured not long after this incident and I told him I wanted him out of the yard and out of my life. We spoke on the odd occasion that I would see him at parties but I basically had wiped my hands of him at this stage, although I was still trying to retrieve my money from him. He was still promising to pay me but Reid had asked me to keep the loan agreement between ourselves, and I initially agreed to do this. However, after several months of trying to get my money out of him, I told him if he didn't make an effort to pay me soon I would talk to Les Hoddy about it. This seemed to worry him greatly but obviously not enough for him to pay me, so eventually I told Les about the loan. Within days of Les finding out about the loan the matter was resolved. Reid rang me early one morning and told me he had my money and that I could come around to his place and collect it. I did this and we had an argument about me telling Les and not sticking to my word. I set him straight on who was at fault and left."
A very interesting fact surfaced after Gary's murder trial. The police knew all about Gary's drama with Reid and the bad blood between them. They had installed electronic surveillance equipment at Reid's house, car and phone and recorded conversations between Reid and his then girlfriend Natasha. On these tapes you can hear them discussing the relationship. But the police and the Department of Public Prosecutions withheld this vital evidence from Gary and the jury in the trial. Evidence which would have supported Gary's defense.
The Murder of a Gypsy Jokers member
In October 2000 members of the Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club travelled to the gold-fields on a club run. On the evening of the 1st of October 2000 the club members were at the Ora Banda Tavern north of Kalgoorlie. The Ora Banda Tavern was at the time owned and operated by Don Hancock, a retired chief of the WA CIB. Hancock was a luminary in the WA Police Service, although it was subsequently proven that Hancock had no problem in fabricating evidence and beating confessions out of suspects (i.e. the Mickelberg case).
On the evening in question a member of the Gypsy Jokers named Billy Grierson got into an argument with Hancock which resulted in Hancock closing the tavern for the night. The Jokers camped that evening on vacant land at Ora Banda. During the course of the evening Billy Grierson was shot dead by a sniper as he and the other members of the club sat around a campfire.
It was a commonly held belief that Hancock was responsible for murdering Grierson, although the police investigation into Billy's murder was a farce. The two detectives assigned to investigate the murder were mates of Hancock and had been drinking with Hancock on the night of the murder. More than likely they were complicit in the assassination and the only responsible investigation should have involved the Crime and Corruption Commission. This fact alone led to an amazing sequence of events that reads like a fiction novel.
Subsequent to the murder of Grierson, Reid, in revenge for Billy's death, and believing that Hancock was responsible (and that the police were not going to do anything about it), orchestrated a bombing campaign around Ora Banda. Hancock's house, the state battery which Hancock owned and the Ora Banda Tavern were targeted in this bombing campaign which resulted in extensive damage to properties belonging to Hancock. As a consequence of these bombings, Hancock and his family moved back to suburban Perth, but at the time no charges were laid against any person in relation to the bombing campaign. Nor have there ever been any charges laid in relation to the murder of Billy Grierson.
The Murder of Hancock and Lewis
On 1st September 2001, Don Hancock and his friend Lou Lewis were murdered by car bomb in the driveway of Hancock's Lathlain home as they returned from a day at the races. As a consequence of this horrific act of urban terrorism, the State formed the Operation Zircon Task Force to investigate the murders of Hancock and Lewis. The Task Force was headed by the then Superintendent Dave Caporn (now Assistant Commissioner) and Det. Sen. Sgt John Brandham (now Superintendent). Both are currently under investigation by the Crime and Corruption Commission for their role in the wrongful imprisonment of Andrew Mallard for 12 years, among other things.
The Task Force made no secret of the fact that they thought the Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club was responsible for the car bombing murders and they openly advocated in the media that they would not only bring those responsible for the murders to justice, but also crush the Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club in Western Australia. Operation Zircon became one of the most expensive and long running investigations in WA history with the sole focus of the task force being the Gypsy Jokers. Numerous members of the club were placed under 24 hour surveillance for many months, with particular emphasis placed on Reid. This may have been due to the fact that Reid had previously been found in possession of explosive materials and detonators. Reid's mobile phone was subject to constant interception and his house and car were fitted with listening devices. It is a shame that a similar response and investigation did not occur in relation to Billy Grierson's murder.
In January of 2001 officers from Operation Zircon intercepted and arrested Reid on the Roe Highway. He was conveyed to Curtin House (WA Police Headquarters) were he was interrogated in relation to the bombing murders of Hancock and Lewis. Initially Reid did not co-operate until the police told Reid that they had his DNA connecting him to the bombing. They in fact did not have any such evidence, but it was enough to convince Reid to confess to manufacturing and installing the bomb in the car. Reid was a full patch-wearing member of the Gypsy Jokers.
The task force then set about manipulating Reid into making incriminating (also read as false) statements against other members of the club, effectively breaking the bikie code of silence. In essence, Caporn made it clear to Reid that he was facing a minimum of 30 years in prison for the double murders, but also made it very clear that the more crimes he implicated Jokers in, the greater his sentence would be reduced. This began a process of Reid providing numerous statements implicating others in serious offences, and multiple instances of the police conspiring with Reid to alter, mould and refine his statements to suit the police objective of destroying the Gypsy Jokers, and significantly bolstering the careers of Caporn and Brandham.
Initially Reid only gave up Graham Slater as being an accomplice to the car bombing murders of Hancock and Lewis. On Reid's evidence alone, Slater was arrested and charged with two counts of wilful murder. The police then made it clear to Reid that offering up Slater was not on its own, sufficient to have his 30 year sentence reduced to the 15 years minimal allowed under the law of WA. Reid had to give the police more in order to get the extraordinary levels of benefits he was offered in exchange for his co-operation. Reid then set about providing statements to Operation Zircon implicating 5 others (Gary included) in his bombing campaign at Ora Banda. On the eve of his sentencing in 2001 Reid decided, or was persuaded, to tell one more story to ensure he got the maximum possible reduction in his sentence. He gave a statement falsely nominating Gary as being responsible for the murder of Anthony Tapley. Unfortunately for Gary his murder trial occurred before any other trials involving Reid's evidence. If this was not the case Reid's evidence would have been exposed as a pack of lies and Gary would be a free man today.
When Reid was sentenced he received everything that was offered to him, including;
- A 30 year sentence reduced to the minimal of 15 years.
- Sentence to be served in another state.
- Entry into the witness protection program upon release.
- Witness protection for his girlfriend.
- Numerous charges against his girlfriend dropped.
- Charges against himself not proceeded with. [and never likely to be]
- The state to arrange and pay the cost of having his girlfriend transport to the state and prison in which he is held 4 times per year for visits.
- Reid received cash payments [amount unknown] and electrical items from police whilst awaiting sentence in Casuarina Prison.
It is clearly evident from these benefits that Reid had a purpose of his own to serve in falsely nominating other persons for serious crimes. He conceded in Court at the Ora Banda trial that it was made clear to him that "the more I tell, the more I get off". He also admitted at the same trial under cross-examination that "'90% of everything I told police was bullshit".
Also at the Ora Banda trial, Gary's Counsel challenged Reid about inconsistencies in his testimony, revealing that his responses were different to those given in evidence at Gary's murder trial previously. When ask whether he was lying now or whether he had lied at Gary's trial his response was that, "I'm not lying now", from which one could rightly conclude that he had lied at Gary's trial.
In each of the three trials the Crown case stood or fell on the evidence of Reid. At Slater's trial in 2003 a reasonable jury judged Reid's evidence to be untruthful, discreditable and unreliable, resulting in Slater being acquitted of any involvement in the murders. At the Ora Banda bombing trial in 2005, another reasonable jury drew the same conclusions about Reid's evidence and again all 5 defendants were acquitted of any involvement in Reid's own misadventures.