Hunt renewed for slain anti-drugs man
His murder was contentiously linked to Terry Clark, the Kiwi head of the Mr Asia drugs syndicate, in TV series Underbelly.
Now the 36-year-old killing of Australian anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay is back in the news, with police renewing a hunt for his body.
On this side of the Tasman developments are being watched with interest by journalist Pat Booth, who led the team of journalists that uncovered the syndicate headed by Clark and who says he was the target of a contract taken out by Clark.
Mackay was shot in the car park of the Griffith Hotel in July 1977, but his body has never been found. The contract killing is believed to have been organised on behalf of crime figures from the Griffith area, after Mackay provided police with information on local marijuana growers.
In the latest developments, New South Wales police have been told two hitmen dumped Mackay's body in a well at a property near Hay, about 150 kilometres from Griffith, as the killers drove back to Melbourne.
Police were "cautiously hopeful" they were finally searching in the right location for the body. They were looking in an area 50 metres by 30 metres in the paddock of a lettuce property.
Information given to Griffith police more than 12 months ago and a meticulous process of examining and making inquiries about the tip had led police to start the dig.
An associate of notorious Australian crime figure Bob Trimbole, Gianfranco Tizzoni, gave evidence that he paid Melbourne man James Frederick Bazley A$10,000 to kill Mackay. Tizzoni was middle man for Trimbole, who had agreed to organise the contract killing on behalf of Griffith crime figures.
Bazley, who always maintained he was not involved in the Mackay murder, was sentenced to nine years for conspiracy to murder Mackay.
Clark and Trimbole did know each other, but author Keith Moor, who wrote a book about Mackay's disappearance, said the two did not meet until the year after Mackay was murdered.
Despite that, "Underbelly had the two of them discussing the still-alive Mackay and even had Clark just about daring Trimbole to do something about the anti-drug campaigner", Moor said.
Booth said he had been interested in the Mackay killing "because in the final stages Clark had a contract out on me. I realised this is what happened to people like Mackay".
Like Moor, Booth did not think Clark was involved in Mackay's death.
"I think the chronology of it was out," Booth said.
"I think Mackay was killed before Clark and the Mr Asia group really got into their stride, but they probably used it as some indication of what they should do when people got in their way."
- © Fairfax NZ News