Author: NICK GALVIN
Publication: Sun Herald
When Glen McNamara blew the whistle on his colleagues, there was hell to pay. He spoke to NICK GALVIN about surviving the nightmare. Glen McNamara still looks like a cop. Solid. Dependable. He could easily play himself in an episode of Underbelly. This is ironic because his loathing for, and mistrust of, the NSW Police Force is almost boundless.As detective senior constable Glen McNamara, he was stationed at Kings Cross in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It was a time and a place that was to become notorious in the history of the NSW Police.There he found corrupt officers who routinely protected criminals in return for cash. But unlike many of his colleagues at the time who allowed themselves to be corrupted or at least turned a blind eye, McNamara didn't buy into the dirty-cop culture.On his own initiative, he began gathering evidence to expose the flourishing criminality - and was then betrayed by the people around him he trusted most.His experiences, documented in his astonishing book, Dirty Work, haunt him still. Yet he doesn't appear consumed by bitterness and anger - that mostly burnt out long ago. Now he says he has been left "desensitised", trusting no one outside his immediate family; his faith in humanity all but destroyed.So how did it come to this? How did an idealistic, 17-year-old working-class boy from Sutherland Shire, who signed on as a cadet in the NSW Police in 1976, go on to become a whistleblower and end up despising everything about his former employer?In the beginning, he says, it was "a terrific job". He enjoyed the camaraderie and the excitement, and when it all got too much, there was always the beach or a surf trip to wind down.After a few years on the streets of the Shire, McNamara did a stint with the National Crime Authority, investigating big players in the drug trade. Then he found himself assigned to Kings Cross Police Station under the now notorious Graham "Chook" Fowler and Larry Churchill."From the moment I walked into the place in January 1988 I noticed there was a complete lack of work being carried out," McNamara writes in his book.Lunches were long and booze-sodden, generally giving way to even longer sessions at the former Bourbon & Beefsteak. But there was something far more sinister going on than a slack work ethic. The money for all the food and grog had to be coming from somewhere.Never a big drinker, McNamara avoided much of the boozing and goton with what he knew best - locking upcrooks. In particular, drug dealers.It was behaviour calculated to irritate Churchill and his lieutenants, who were making a handsome profit selling immunity to the dealers around the Cross and, it later turned out, selling drugs themselves.McNamara gradually began building a picture of the detectives' criminal activity and winning their trust to the point where he was delegated to deal with Robert "Dolly" Dunn, who made a lucrative living manufacturing amphetamines for sale. Dunn used the drug dealing profits to fund his extravagantly depraved paedophile activities and pay off the police.McNamara decided to back himself to bring down the racket."The huge advantage I had over them was that as a working detective, I was in court all the time," he says. "I knew a lot about evidence, function and process. These guys were never in court - they weretoo drunk, too lazy and too busy collecting cash offdrug dealers."And most of the police who weren't on the take were fatally flawed, too, in McNamara's estimation."I'd say 95 per cent of policemen are cowards," he says. "They can't handle themselves physically and they're only good in a group, and that makes them only as good as the gangs they go after."The other reason they are cowards is that they turn their heads when they should explore what the problem is. I've had comments from former police who have read the book and they say they thought Churchill was corrupt - I just wish they had joined me. I've also heard them try and justify inaction but it's just a word jumble; it's just alphabet soup."McNamara has had plenty of time in the intervening years to reflect on why he pursued his secret campaign rather than just walking away."I've thought about it a lot," he says. "I think my upbringing certainly had a lot to do with it. My father always said, 'Stand up for yourself, don't ever let anyone stand over you.'"And if you are being paid to enforce the law and someone proposes you engage with them in a $2 million drug supply and one of the beneficiaries will be cops ... it's not a hard choice. The hardest thing was havingthe discipline to keep it to myself."And then there was the discipline required to win the trust of Dunn and members of his paedophile "circle of friends" to the point where they would incriminate themselves."What he [Dunn] said during these talks made me want to be physically sick or flatten the pervert there and then," McNamara writes. "But it was so important that I appeared non-judgmental. I had to suppress my feelings so I didn't blow the undercover drug job and the chance of catching the much bigger fish - an organised gang of paedophiles operating under police noses."To react to the details of Dunn's modus operandi (among other things he liked to dress in priest's robes while abusing children) would have been counterproductive."It would be massively indulgent to say, 'Well, I'm hunting these guys because I want to send them to prison for 15 or 20 years but they so offend me that I think instead of that I will blow everything and slap them acrossthe ear."'McNamara's patience finally paid off with an extraordinary meeting between him, Dunn and another paedophile, Colin Fisk, at the Doncaster Hotel, Kensington.They had arranged for Dunn to hand over a large amount of amphetamines for McNamara to distribute. What Dunn and Fisk didn't know was that McNamara was wearing concealed recording equipment. "I kept pumping whisky into them, making sure all I had was a middy of light," McNamara says. "They were making the most extraordinary remarks about police protection of paedophiles. At one stage I excused myself to go to the toilet just to make sure the tape was still going - I couldn't believe it."I got so comfortable, I was able to excuse myself while they were having their last drink and, before we went into the car park, I got a team of surveillance guys with video positioned so they could film the drug deal."In the car park, McNamara says Dunn handed over a garbage bag containing $2 million-worth of freshly cooked speed.McNamara went to the police Internal Security Unit with the drugs and the tape but almost immediately the operation began to unravel. The ISU officers were reluctant to bring in Dunn, Fisk and the others immediately, and then McNamara was betrayed by one of his own.Someone - McNamara believes inside the ISU - leaked the information about his undercover status and the news quickly reached the ears of Larry Churchill.Now there were plenty of corrupt police who would like to see McNamara dead and he was forced to go into witness protection - his career in the NSW Police Force effectively finished.John O'Neil, one of the officers assigned to help protect McNamara, gave a blunt assessment of his prospects. "You're a pariah," he said. "No one will work with you. One of two things will happen. You will be lured to an isolated location by the bullshit report of a job and then shot or your locker will be loaded up with heroin and you'll be locked up. Either way, there is no future for you."In an attempt to escape the madness, at least for a while, McNamara and his wife Cheryl, pregnant with their first child, left for a long-promised holiday in Los Angeles.But just hours after arriving at the hotel, they received a call from the federal police to say they had uncovered a plot to murder McNamara in the US. The news proved too much for Cheryl, who almost immediately had a miscarriage."I lost my first child and my soul," McNamara writes of that moment.The traumatised couple made it back to Sydney, where McNamara was to fight for years, both to clear his name and to ensure as many of the paedophiles and their protectors as possible were brought to justice.In 2004 he gave evidence to the Federal Parliamentary Crime Committee, detailing his allegations. As a result, he says, his police record was "spiked" with allegations of an armed robbery. He successfully sued the NSW Police Force for defamation and had his record corrected. "There were problems for four or five years with me getting a job," he says. "It was payback from the police for me giving evidence before a properly constituted parliamentary committee."Even now, the past stalks McNamara."What I was really concerned about and am still concerned about now is that the guys who participated with Churchill from '73 onwards ... they got away with all these rip-offs and frauds and extortions. They are the real problem for me. They have climbed to high rank; they've gone to other agencies; other government departments; they've retired - they have their own network of friends."The only people McNamara believes he can rely on are his family - and himself. Everyone else has let him down."It leaves me with a pretty strong view that there is no such thing as justice," he says. "It leaves me soulless in a lot of respects. Things don't upset me too much."Dirty Work is published by New Holland,R.R.P. $29.95.