A jailed drug trafficker appealing his conviction because his barrister, Nicola Gobbo, was a snitch wants to know if another of his lawyers acted as a police informer.
Francesco "Frank" Madafferihas served six years of a 10-year sentence after he was found guilty of selling the drug ecstasy following his arrest in connection to the 2007 importation of 15 million pills, hidden in tomato tins, from Naples to Melbourne.
Frank MadafferiCredit:Paul Rovere
Madafferi claims he suffered a miscarriage of justice because he was never told that Ms Gobbo, registered as Informer 3838, was passing on information to Victoria Police while she was his lawyer.
His current lawyer, Catherine Boston, told the Court of Appeal on Thursday that evidence used to convict Madafferi was "fruit from the poisoned tree".
Madafferi also wants to know whether his long-time solicitor, Joseph Acquaro, was also an informer but says police are playing their cards close to their chest.
"Victoria Police has refused to tell him one way or the other whether his solicitor for 15 years … was a police informer," Ms Boston said. She said it was "not acceptable" that Madafferi had been in jail for so long given the conduct of the police.
Nicola Gobbo with Joe ‘Pino’ Acquaro (far left), who was later slain outside his Brunswick gelati shop, and Calabrian mafia boss Pasquale Barbaro.Credit:Nine News
Sashi Maharaj, QC, acting for Victoria Police, told the court it was the chief commisisoner's position that he "cannot confirm nor deny" whether Mr Acquaro was an informer.
Mr Acquaro was shot dead in 2016 and a man is awaiting trial for his murder.Madafferi has been given 12,000 pages of documents related to the tomato tins case but has been refused access to more files which he sought to help with his appeal.
Judicial Registrar Ian Irving was not satisfied there was a need for Madafferi to be given more documents.
Ms Maharaj said there had already been a "generous" disclosure of documents to Madafferi, and that Victoria Police would hand over more if compelled to do so.
"You have 12,000 pages. Go and study it. If you need more we will be happy to oblige," Ms Maharaj said.
But Ms Boston said the documents given to Madafferi were heavily redacted and doubted he, the court or the public could have confidence in Victoria Police to disclose more.
Lawyers for Victoria Police and Commonwealth prosecutors said there was no evidence Ms Gobbo was formally employed as Madafferi's barrister. However, Ms Boston said Madafferi was instructing and obtaining advice from Ms Gobbo up until 2009.
Pasquale Barbaro, Rob Karam and Saverio Zirilli are among those jailed over the tomato tins import who are now appealing against their convictions and prison terms given Ms Gobbo's involvement and the conduct of police in allowing her to work as an informer while she was a defence lawyer.
Drug lord Tony Mokbel, although not part of the tomato tins importation, is also challenging his convictions given his long association with Ms Gobbo.
Salvatore Agresta, who was jailed over the tomato tins import, was on Thursday set to seek more documents to help with his appeal. But his lawyer, Jonathan Barreiro, abandoned the request after watching Judicial Registrar Irving rule against Madafferi.
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