Faruk Orman wouldn’t have been the only one smiling when his murder conviction was quashed today — other convicted criminals will be hoping the landmark decision will mean they too will walk free.
The Melbourne gangland identity has been immediately released from jail because of a “substantial miscarriage of justice” caused by his double-agent lawyer Nicola Gobbo, who was supplying Victoria Police with information while she represented him.
Victoria’s Court of Appeal ordered Mr Orman be released without delay after a hearing in Melbourne on Friday found he should be acquitted due to “Lawyer X” Ms Gobbo’s actions while she was representing him.
Ms Nicola Gobbo
Mr Orman wiped away tears in the courtroom as the decision was announced. The 37-year-old has spent 12 years behind bars, including two years awaiting trial.
In a statement issued through his lawyers, Mr Orman said: “After serving 12 years for a crime that I did not commit, I am looking forward to getting on with my life as a private citizen.
“I am sure that there will be more revelations from the royal commission, which may give all of us affected some answers, even though we may never know the full truth about what’s actually happened.”
Orman’s family was in court on Friday and embraced him after his convictions were quashed.
Prosecutors conceded it would be unjust to order a retrial.
And it could just be the start.
Other inmates appealing their convictions due to Lawyer X’s conduct are drug lord Tony Mokbel and drug trafficker Rob Karam, who was locked up over one of Australia’s biggest drug busts where 4.4 tonnes of ecstasy pills were discovered stashed in tomato tins.
Ice cook Zlate Cvetanovski is also appealing his conviction after being jailed for 11 years.
The High Court of Australia in November described Victoria Police’s use of Ms Gobbo to inform on her clients as “reprehensible conduct’’, prompting a royal commission.
Orman is the only jailed person affected by Lawyer X who has been given significant disclosure from police about Ms Gobbo’s informing on him, The Herald Sun reported.
He had been jailed for two decades in 2009 for his involvement in the slaying of career criminal Victor Pierce at the hands of hitman Andrew “Benji” Veniamin.
He was found to have helped plan the execution and drove the getaway car. But the credibility of evidence from a key witness in the case against Orman was brought into doubt as the actions of turncoat lawyer, Ms Gobbo, were revealed. She at times represented Orman.
“We will order that the appeal be allowed, the conviction for murder set aside and in its pleas a judgment of acquittal be entered for the offence of murder,” a joint ruling by three Court of Appeal judges read.
A royal commission is investigating the police use of Ms Gobbo as an informer, and Friday’s acquittal could pave the way for other criminals to appeal their convictions.