They call me Ova­dia QC

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - THE SNITCH - AVA BENNY-MOR­RI­SON and BRENDEN HILLS

THERE’S a per­cep­tion in the le­gal world that if you hire a big­name lawyer, the judge might let the one per­centers fall in your favour. But Lind­say Day couldn’t af­ford a bar­ris­ter so he took a punt on a dif­fer­ent kind of recog­nis­able name to ar­gue his case in court: Chan­nel 7 re­porter Robert Ova­dia.

Snitch was shocked and amused re­cently when we walked into court 3.1 of the Down­ing Cen­tre District Court to see Ova­dia on his feet at the bar ta­ble ar­gu­ing a case in front of Judge Paul Con­lon.

Mr Day is a cam­era­man for Chan­nel 7 and had been pulled into an AVO dis­pute af­ter a neigh­bour­hood ren­o­va­tion stoush. We’re told he agreed to the AVO terms to avoid an ex­pen­sive court bat­tle but was still fac­ing a costs hear­ing where the other side was ar­gu­ing for him to pay $18,000 for le­gal fees.

Mr Day fig­ured his col­league Ova­dia was a dab hand at a live news cross so asked if he would act as his lawyer to avoid the crip­pling le­gal bill. The re­sult was Ova­dia go­ing toe to toe in court with highly re­garded bar­ris­ter Michael Coro­neos, who pulled the news­man up sev­eral times for not ad­her­ing to the court’s rules of en­gage­ment.

“I just couldn’t get past the in­jus­tice of it,” Ova­dia said. “My friend and col­league was be­ing bul­lied by the weight of money. He couldn’t af­ford le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion so I in­sisted on rep­re­sent­ing him. I wasn’t in­tim­i­dated … and I was prob­a­bly more ag­gres­sive in court than I needed to be, but I needed a de­gree of pas­sion to make up for my lack of le­gal ex­per­tise,” he said.

So, how did he go? The $18,000 in costs the other side was ask­ing for was re­duced to $4000.

“Other bar­ris­ters now call me ‘Ova­dia QC’,” he said. “They find it amus­ing.”

POL­I­TICS IS A DRUG

Guess which as­pir­ing politi­cian was ac­tu­ally liv­ing a dou­ble life as a high-level drug dealer? Snitch was set to re­veal the de­tails of the case but a non­pub­li­ca­tion on his iden­tity has got­ten in the way.

What we can tell you is that he has pleaded guilty to mul­ti­ple drug sup­ply charges af­ter a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion in which he was caught sup­ply­ing 731 grams of am­phet­a­mines and 28 grams of heroin.

How­ever, po­lice claim they are con­fi­dent he had sold mul­ti­ple ki­los of drugs.

The man was a fre­quent fix­ture at po­lit­i­cal func­tions and has been pic­tured with for­mer prime min­is­ters. Dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, po­lice found $210,000 un­der a couch in his fa­ther’s liv­ing room. His fa­ther was not charged and said he had no knowl­edge of the money.

Stay tuned.

A RING OF TRUTH

In the course of trawl­ing the city for news, Snitch is of­ten ex­posed to yarns that don’t nec­es­sar­ily trans­late into news sto­ries. This par­tic­u­lar gem has to be one of our favourites. We’re told the set­ting was a boozy Fri­day af­ter­noon at a CBD pub many moons ago where two lawyers had sev­eral schooners’ head­start over their cop­per mate who was late to ar­rive at the get-to­gether. As the beer flowed, one of the lawyers steered the con­ver­sa­tion to­wards his favourite topic: that his drink­ing part­ner had fat fin­gers that look like chipo­latas.

In­censed, the other lawyer slipped off his wed­ding ring to prove a point. His tor­men­tor picked up the ring and sug­gested he use a shower cur­tain ring in­stead. He then slam dunked it into a full beer that had been bought for the po­lice of­fi­cer.

In their drunken state, the lawyers for­got about the ring and the cop ar­rived soon af­ter. The cop was a sea­soned drinker and poured the beer down his throat. The ring was never seen again.

The post­script was the lawyer’s an­gry wife or­dered him to buy a cheaper re­place­ment ring made of ster­ling sil­ver, fig­ur­ing he was short odds to lose it again.

A SMOOTH CRIM­I­NAL

Crims are a vain lot these days, with a good por­tion spend­ing more time in beauty par­lours than tat­too par­lours. So guess which one was caught on po­lice sur­veil­lance at­tend­ing a twohour ap­point­ment at a Bondi cos­metic clinic?

We’re told the cops were fol­low­ing our crim when he ducked in for an 11.30am ap­point­ment. We don’t know what pro­ce­dure our man was par­tak­ing in but it’s prob­a­bly safe to say things have changed in the un­der­world since the days when Neddy Smith was do­ing his com­plex­ion the world of dam­age by knock­ing back 30 mid­dies a day.

SUPREME EL­E­VA­TION

Af­ter a 10-year ca­reer as a NSW Supreme Court judge in which she locked up mur­derer Si­mon Git­tany and the hus­band of PR queen Roxy Ja­cenko, Jus­tice Lucy McCal­lum (above) has been pro­moted for her ef­forts.

Jus­tice McCal­lum was this week el­e­vated to sit on the NSW Court of Ap­peal, where she will still lock up bad guys but also point out mis­takes of her fel­low judges. At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Mark Speak­man said Jus­tice McCal­lum will start her new gig in Jan­uary and will re­place re­tir­ing Jus­tice Ruth McColl.

THE REAL SNITCH

We hear there’s an­other snitch who has been wrongly ac­cused of be­ing our snitch. Jimmy Thom­son, known as The In­spec­tor, pub­lished a book ti­tled Snitch in 2010 that of­fered an in­sider’s ac­count into Kings Cross in its par­tic­u­larly grimy hey­day. This Snitch is re­li­ably in­formed Thom­son has been get­ting heck­led that he is the brains be­hind the col­umn. And while we’re def­i­nitely not for dis­clos­ing sources, we can con­firm Thom­son hasn’t been spilling any state se­crets our way. If he wants to, though, he knows where to find us.

Chan­nel 7 re­porter and part-time ‘le­gal ea­gle’ Robert Ova­dia.

Jus­tice Lucy McCal­lum.

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