Sunday, 7 August 2011

Underbelly: A Tale Of Two League Identities (2009)

In 1973, the blonde-haired Paul Hayward burst into first grade for Newtown. He played in the halves during the clubs final decade in the NSWRL. In 1976 he was selected in the Combined Sydney side which toured New Zealand. He had also been selected to compete for Australia at the 1976 Olympics in boxing, however due to his professional status in Rugby League, was unable to compete.

In 1978, this stellar sportsman’s career ended.

On October 11, 1978, Hayward was arrested at the Montien Hotel in Bangkok, with a case containing 8.4kgs of heroin on the floor. He was sentenced to life in prison. His sporting career finished at age 26.

Hayward was more closely linked to the underworld than most people realise.

His brother-in-law was Arthur Stanley Smith, also known as ‘Neddy’ Smith.

Smith had wide-reaching connections in the criminal world: he was an informant for rogue policeman Roger Rogerson and he was very closely associated with the Old Kangaroo Gang, who were robbers headed by Ray “Chuck” Bennett. Bennett briefly spent time at Pentridge prison alongside Mark “Chopper” Reid. Bennett masterminded the ‘Great Bookie Robbery’ in Melbourne in 1976. In 1979, Brian Kane shot Bennett at the Melbourne Magistrates Court in retribution for the murder of Brian’s brother, Les, which Bennett was charged with, but later acquitted of.

Hayward’s Newtown team-mate Doug Kemister, was allegedly a driver for ‘Neddy’ Smith throughout the 1970’s, in between Smith’s stints in jail.

In 1977, NSWRL President and ARL Chairman Kevin Humphreys was faced with charges of misappropriating funds from the Balmain Leagues Club during his tenure as secretary from 1965-1973. A total of $52,519 was taken by Humphreys.

In 1977 he was tried and acquitted of all charges. But it wasn’t until an investigative story on ABC’s 4 Corners program in 1983, by Chris Masters, the brother of then St.George coach Roy, which unveiled much more than first presumed.

Chief Stipendiary Magistrate Murray Farquhar had advised another magistrate to rule in favour of Humphreys. It was also rumoured that NSW State Premier Neville Wran had also interfered with the magistrate’s appointment for Humphreys’ case.

Wran immediately stepped down once the Street Royal Commission commenced.

The Royal Commission unveiled more than anyone could have imagined. It was revealed that Humphreys had attended the 1981 wedding of George Freeman, and stated “I believe I have the right to attend the wedding of a friend of mine.”

Freeman was an influential underworld figure, who was the owner of several illegal casino’s throughout Sydney. Freeman was a close associate of Murray Farquhar and Dr Nick Paltos, whose clientele included Sir Harry Seccombe, Kerry Packer and underworld drug baron Bob Trimbole. When Trimbole fled overseas, Paltos took care of his drug empire.

A famous photograph of Nick Paltos enjoying a day at the races with George Freeman and Murray Farquhar implicated all three in the Royal Commission.

After the closure of Freeman’s casinos, he turned to the drug trade. He hired the services of Chris Flannery, who had previously been arrested by Rogerson for an alleged attempted robbery. Flannery sided with ‘Neddy’ Smith in the early 80’s before he was declared missing, presumed murdered in 1985. Rogerson was for a time linked to his disappearance, which he vehemently denies any knowledge of.

The fallout from the Street Royal Commission saw Neville Wran resign from his position as NSW State Premier.

Murray Farquhar was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

Freeman’s empire crumbled around him and in 1990 he died after complications from an asthma attack.

‘Neddy’ Smith was jailed in 1989 where he remains.

Paltos was sentenced to 23 years jail for drug trafficking and attempting to pervert the course of justice in 1990, alongside Rogerson. Paltos died in 1990.

Trimbole died from cancer in 1985.

Rogerson was jailed for 4 years in 1990 for perverting the course of justice. He was jailed for another year in 2005 for lying at a 1999 Police Integrity Commission.

Paul Hayward was released after 11 years. He returned to Australia as a heroin addict on April 29, 1989. He died from AIDS in 1992.

Ironically, Humphreys efforts to clean up Rugby League did more for the NSW Police than the NSWRL.

He was oblivious to the world he’d entered into, or how close it was to the game he loved.

Kevin Humphreys was fined $4000.

He repaid all his outstanding debts.

He has suffered two strokes, yet still lives.

He no longer gambles.

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