The Fixer: The Rise and Fall of Australian Drug Lord Robert Trimbole
According to author Bob Bottom in his book Without Fear or Favour, The NSW police had been carrying out illegal telephone surveillance of key crime figures from 1976 until 1983.
One of their targets was Robert Trimbole. Ostensibly used for intelligence gathering purposes, the special unit of police listened in to hundreds of hours of conversations trying to glean sufficient information to use against their targets.
On the May 5, 1981, when Trimboles phone was tapped, one of the first conversations recorded was of him being tipped off about his pending arrest for conspiracy to murder Mackay. The caller was notorious
Two days later Trimbole was out of the country having foiled customs checks by changing his birth date on a departure card. He boarded a flight to the
In June 1983, Lindsey Murdoch from The Age newspaper in
He also made mention of Trimboles involvement in race-fixing. At the time of the article
Murdoch had been unaware of the phone taps but John Silvester from The Sun newspaper had access to copies of the tape transcripts and wrote his own story confirming that a tip-off had been made.
Silvester also exposed a deal that Trimbole had done with corrupt officials to release a friend of his from prison early and supply him with travel documents so he could meet him at his overseas hideout.
The transcripts of the tapes were later published and became known as the Age Tapes.
Nick Paltos, the man who had warned Trimbole, was a leading drug baron and with two associates, Ross Karp and Graham Palmer, ran a drug syndicate known as the Lavender group.
In October 1984, Paltos allegedly traveled overseas to organize a heroin shipment and also met with Trimbole in
A month later Trimbole was arrested in Ireland and held in custody awaiting extradition but, aided by a battery of high priced lawyers, Trimbole managed to avoid extradition after the Irish government refused to extradite him to Australia. He was released just weeks later.
Despite their best efforts the Australian government could not overturn the Irish courts decision and Trimbole regained his freedom.
The Australian federal police later intercepted phone conversation between Paltos and an associate while they were discussing the failed extradition attempt and made mention of the large amounts of money that Trimbole had spent.
Apparently the efforts to extradite Trimbole failed largely due to the efforts of British constitutional lawyer, Patrick MacEntree who had become famous for defending IRA freedom fighters.
Robert Trimbole eventually escaped to
In keeping with the way in which he lived, mourners at his