Faruk Orman was released on Friday after the Court of Appeal quashed his murder conviction. (ABC Melbourne: Kristian Silva)
Having spent more than a decade in prison for a murder he insisted he did not commit, Faruk Orman’s case was broken open when his lawyer Ruth Parker was running late for work and turned on the radio.
- Ms Parker said police only provided crucial documents after she confronted the Chief Commissioner on air
- Mr Orman said he was “loving life” three days after his murder conviction was overturned
- He said he believed there were other people in prison who deserved to be given fresh trials
It was February 14, and Victoria Police’s Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton was being interviewed about the Lawyer X scandal by Jon Faine on ABC Radio Melbourne.
Ms Parker decided to call in and confront the state’s most senior police officer.
“I can confirm on behalf of my client that I’ve received no documentation from the Victoria Police, which is disclosable to us to identify how [Lawyer X] may have affected my client’s case, who’s now served 11-and-a-half years for murder that he has maintained he has never committed,” she said.
“I’m here to ask when are we getting the documents that might actually assist people to undo the damage that the Victoria Police have done?”
Mr Ashton replied: “In relation to providing documents etc, disclosures have been made by the [Office of Public Prosecutions].”
“Not to me, not to my client,” Ms Parker said.
Lawyer Ruth Parker has described the conduct of Victoria Police as “disgraceful”. (ABC Melbourne: Kristian Silva)
Documents revealed ‘egregious’ breaches by Lawyer X
Lawyer X, later unmasked as Nicola Gobbo, was Mr Orman’s defence lawyer when he was on trial for the murder of Victor Peirce during Melbourne’s gangland war.
The documents Ms Parker was seeking would reveal that Ms Gobbo, a secret police informer, called police to warn them that another client of hers, a career criminal known as Witness Q, was wavering about giving evidence against Mr Orman.
Witness Q’s evidence helped put Mr Orman behind bars for 20 years.
On Friday, Victoria’s Court of Appeal ruled Ms Gobbo’s actions constituted such a serious miscarriage of justice that Mr Orman’s conviction was quashed. There will not be a retrial.
Ms Gobbo’s actions as a police informer are now the subject of a royal commission, and several convictions now face the prospect of being overturned.
Ms Parker said she had written to police several times to try to get information about Ms Gobbo’s involvement in Mr Orman’s case, but within days of her on-air confrontation with Mr Ashton, the material arrived.
“From a fundamental level [the documents] showed that the breaches was so egregious,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“I can understand why they didn’t want them to come out.”
“The behaviour of the Victoria Police from the moment that Faruk was charged has been nothing short of disgraceful.”
Mr Orman’s barrister Carly Lloyd said his legal team was able to “draw inferences and connect the dots” but it was still unclear exactly how her client’s case had been handled by prosecutors.
‘All the world’s gold’ not enough compensation, says Orman
Faruk Orman and lawyers Ruth Parker and Carly Lloyd speak to Jon Faine during an interview on Monday. (ABC Melbourne: Kristian Silva)
Three days after being released from prison, Mr Orman said he was “loving life”.
He said he wanted people to know that he was completely innocent, and did not beat the murder charge on a technicality.
“The public should know what really happened,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne on Monday.
“I didn’t get away from a crime and never committed a crime.”
Mr Orman confirmed he would be seeking compensation from the state.
“If they gave me all the world’s gold it will never replace what I’ve been through,” he said.
Mr Orman, now 37, said he had experienced “shattered periods” while in prison, but always maintained hope that his name would be cleared.
“Even if I’d done my full sentence, I was still hopeful that it would come out,” he said.
He believes there are others in jail who are innocent.
“Even if they think they’ve done nothing wrong, at the very least give them a retrial and give them the fairness they should have had,” Mr Orman said.
“Even if they are guilty let them get found guilty fairly.”