Drug trafficker Francesco “Frank” Madafferi has been denied bail as he awaits an appeal against his conviction, which he claims was tainted by the double-dealing of his lawyer Joe “Pino” Acquaro with Victoria Police.
The Court of Appeal bail decision has raised significant concerns about the strength of the appeal case, which will be expedited while Madafferi remains behind bars.
Francesco Madafferi in 2009.Credit:Paul Rovere
“None of the fresh evidence about Acquaro exculpates the applicant [Madafferi] or raises any doubt about his guilt,” Justices Karin Emerton and Robert Osborn said in their decision on Thursday.
“None of the evidence bears on the admissibility of the evidence that was called on trial. Furthermore, there is no evidence that anything that Acquaro said to Victoria Police was communicated to the informant or had any bearing on his trial.”
The now 60-year-old has already served a seven-year non-parole period of a decade-long sentence for his role in one of the largest ecstasy-trafficking syndicates in Australian history.
Madafferi, a reputed senior member of the Calabrian Honoured Society, or ’Ndrangheta, has been fighting deportation to Italy for two decades and was deemed an unlawful non-citizen in 2015.
In July, The Age revealed that Australian Border Force had begun preparations to expel Madafferi when he became eligible for parole in August.
Madafferi was refused parole and filed an application for bail in September on the basis that there were exceptional circumstances and he did not pose a flight risk.
During the application on November 12, Madafferi’s lawyer Catherine Boston told the Court of Appeal that her client’s case was strong and there had been a substantial miscarriage of justice.
Ms Boston said that Madafferi had only learned of Mr Acquaro’s role as a police informer from the royal commission into gangland lawyer Nicola Gobbo’s duplicitous role as Informer 3838.
“Due to Victoria Police’s surreptitious and reprehensible conduct, Mr Madafferi was not provided with proper disclosure [about Mr Acquaro’s informing] at the time of the trial,” she said.
“Subsequently, due to Victoria Police’s efforts over many years to hide its practice of using lawyers as police informers, Mr Madafferi did not learn of that practice until 2019.”
In its decision to refuse bail, the Court of Appeal acknowledged the long delays faced by Madafferi and the added burden of imprisonment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The process has been protracted, involving, as the applicant has outlined, a multitude of objections by the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police to the provision of documents, multiple hearings and the release of documents to the applicant over a number of dates in a variety of states of redaction,” the decision said.
Madafferi can apply for bail again in August next year and is due to complete his full sentence by August 2024.
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