The Monthly : 2018-12-01

FRONT PAGE : 50 : 50

FRONT PAGE

48 that wanted the crop, I served them very well by covering them up, by saying that it was Winchester’s project … These are the people you have to look at.” This seems consistent with previous threats the growers had made when their supposed cover had been exposed. In May 1982, two months after he had arrested the three drug couriers, Detective Weel of Victoria Police met YKW at a Lygon Street cafe, where the informant pleaded for the charges to be dropped, claiming he was under “political pressure” as a result of the arrests, and, according to Weel: “He stated that he and I would get a bullet if he could not satisfy those involved.” Later that month one of the men he had arrested spoke to Weel directly: “He said he didn’t want me to do the wrong thing by him, nor did he want to do the wrong thing by me.” But in that same AFP interview, YKW says maybe killed Winchester. It’s hopeless. How could you trust such a contradict­ory witness, who today says he started informing because he “wanted to hurt these people as much as possible”? YKW may know everything – or nothing. And if Winchester was murdered for treachery, why did YKW – the obvious turncoat – escape unharmed? Because he’s told police he was scared of being “blown away” by his neighbour, who owned a pump-action shotgun. And he says he continued to feel threatened in 1988 even after his neighbour had moved out, because he thought one day he saw him following his car. (And even if it was Eastman shopping for weapons, two of those sellers say he handled theirs like an amateur.) But who knows what Eastman perceived as threatenin­g? This is a man who once rang police and accused another neighbour of too loudly, who once complained to a bus company that its drivers pulled into the kerb in an intimidato­ry manner. And how about the fact that a letter from AFP commission­er Peter McAulay confirming the assault charge would be prosecuted was delivered to Eastman the as the murder? A letter was sent by Eastman’s counsel to the DPP in April 1989 requesting the charge be dropped: this suggests he hadn’t given up, and knew Winchester’s death wouldn’t make the charge go away. The buggings? The sightings? The threats? The ATM withdrawal? But without forensic evidence, this case is circumstan­tial. flushing her toilet same day the police But what if the justice system failed Eastman for a more troubling reason: because we let it? untouchabl­e? Or not worth touching? He’s still acting as an agent provocateu­r: this time peddling doubt instead of intel. Unsurprisi­ngly, YKW guffaws when asked under cross-examinatio­n if he knows who killed Winchester. “Definitely not!” For five months now I’ve been reminded of something I read while trawling through old newspaper articles written by journalist Margo Kingston in 1989, the year Eastman was under 24-hour AFP surveillan­ce: “Start with an assumption of innocence and coincidenc­es quickly become just that. Start with an assumption of guilt, and even the most innocuous scraps of informatio­n become pieces in a jigsaw, and off-hand comments soaked with significan­ce.” Flip the assumption of guilt, and work from the hypothesis that L’Onorata killed Winchester. The deceased was the victim of a “double-tap” shooting, less commonly associated with economists than profession­al assassins used by criminal organisati­ons like the ’Ndrangheta – 11 suspected members of which the victim had been instrument­al in bringing to custody, their prosecutio­n imminent. Coincident­ally, the nephew of two members of the Bungendore Eleven (and the godson of another) was stopped at a roadblock leaving Canberra the morning after the Winchester murder; his other car, a V8, was in a garage being repainted. It was never inspected by police. In 1990, a former L’Onorata leader from Canberra – who had two brothers in the Bungendore Eleven – had been rumoured to be promising to tell the National Crime Authority who killed Winchester if they provided him with protection; he was the father of the man with in this case for someone other than Mr Eastman to have killed Mr Winchester,” says Murugan Thangaraj in his closing address. In the 30 years since, all Eastman has said of his whereabout­s between 8 and 10pm on 10 January 1989 – the murder window – is that he was out, and that his usual night-time routine was to go out for takeaway, driving around to relax. How are we to understand this? Would someone of his intelligen­ce neglect to come up with a watertight alibi even while planning to pull off a murder? Although he denies buying the Queanbeyan Ruger, what are we to make of the fact that he doesn’t deny buying two other rifles – one under a false name and the other, a Ruger – a year before the murder? Or that he allegedly inspected, but didn’t buy, other Rugers later in 1988, but after the murder – two of which the buyer specified to the sellers he didn’t need the accompanyi­ng telescopic sight? He bought them soon after the assault charge; he “There are too many coincidenc­es three not the monthly — essay

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