Angus to expose gunman

by Chris Griffith
Published 28 April 1996 in The Sunday Mail


my face


In a 1986 interview, Angus McDonald, a respected NSW police superintendent and husband of Governor Leneen Forde, made a pledge to catch those responsible for the near-fatal shooting of NSW drug squad detective Michael Drury.

In an interview with internal investigator Chief Supt Eric Strong, the then Supt McDonald said: "I will try until the day I am dead to find out who shot him and I hope that was the attitude of a lot of other members of the Police Force".

Twelve years on, the callous shooting of Drury in 1984 is still listed as an unresolved crime.

But while the investigation languishes, the event has not been forgotten, thanks to the NSW Police Royal Commission which last month heard evidence that the original investigation of the Drury shooting was "an absolute cover-up" of the activities of disgraced NSW detective Roger Rogerson.

At the time Mr McDonald was a tough, respected, and successful homicide cop who had risen to become chief of operations at the NSW Criminal Investigation Branch.

When Drury was shot, McDonald appointed Det Sgt Dennis West to head the attempted murder investigation.

After consultation with Police Commissioner Cec Abbott and Assistant Commissioner Day, McDonald himself took charge of a second, parallel investigation into bribery allegations that pointed to Rogerson's involvement in the Drury shooting.

Last month, a senior NSW Police internal affairs officer told the Royal Commission the initial investigation into Drury's shooting was "an absolute cover-up."

The witness, Det Insp William Smith, was one of eight police officers who in 1987 was assigned to Task Force Omega, the second of the three re-investigations of the Drury shooting.

On June 6th, 1984, Drury was shot in the abdomen and shoulder with two .357 hollow-point bullets through the window of his Chatsworth home in Sydney. He was critically ill for a month.

Mr McDonald recommended no departmental or criminal charges against Rogerson.

Last month Smith told the commission: "As I and other investigators on Omega were doing this, it became blatantly obvious that the initial investigation was an absolute cover-up in relation to Roger Rogerson.

"It became blatantly clear as each stage progressed that Rogerson was the linchpin and organiser of the shooting of Detective Drury."

He said the investigation had not followed up key intelligence reports, including the intelligence report that "years later" led to Melbourne heroine dealer Alan David Williams confessing his and Rogerson's part in a conspiracy to murder Drury.

"A solicitor ... volunteered information in 1984, shortly after Drury was shot, to Victorian authorities that he had been privy to conversations in which the conspiracy was discussed and a fee of $50,000 to shoot Drury with a further $50,000 on the result that he was dead; that had never been followed up."

According to the Task Force Omega report, Williams later confessed that Rogerson had received $45,000 and hitman Christopher Dale Flannery $5,000 before the shooting. The second $50,000, which was to be split the opposite way, was not paid because Drury survived.

At the time, Drury was about to give key evidence against Williams who was facing heroin trafficking charges in Melbourne. Williams, and his associates Hansen and Richardson were arrested following Drury's involvement in a police undercover operation.

A 1984 investigation report by McDonald said that while Drury was critically ill, he told McDonald, in a bedside statement, that Rogerson had offered him (Drury) between $15,000 to $25,000 "if the right thing was done".

The Omega Task Force report said McDonald himself faced two investigations.

After consideration by the Director of Prosecutions, no action was taken against him.

The report also recommended no charges be laid and highlighted the difficulty in deciding who was in charge , overall, of the investigation.

Further, a 1990 judicial review by Sydney Queens Counsel Howard Purnell dismissed a claim that Mr McDonald had failed to thoroughly investigate Williams' role in the shooting.

"Williams was a hardened criminal and at that stage he apparently was not about to confess to New South Wales police," Purnell wrote.

Nevertheless the emergence of the Omega Report issue at the NSW Royal Commission suggests Drury's shooting and Mr McDonald's investigation could be under scrutiny once more.

Mr McDonald has already appeared before the NSW Royal Commission, at a hearing in Lismore in March last year.

He answered questions on two unconnected internal affairs investigations and associated matters that occurred when he was superintendent of the Lismore region.

Last week, the commission said it would "neither confirm or deny" whether Smith's evidence indicated Mr McDonald would take the stand soon to discuss the Drury shooting.

A Government House spokesman said Mr McDonald would be making "no comment" on any NSW Police Royal Commission matters.

Last week, The Sunday Mail obtained a copy of the 1984 Omega Task Force report.

It deals with a number of concerns about McDonald's investigation, many of which he has responded to in other inquiries.

It said Mr McDonald had directed other investigators not to interview Rogerson.

Mr McDonald denied this in his 1986 interview with Chief Supt Strong.

It said there was evidence he prevented other members of the investigating team from seeing a "dying deposition" by Drury, where he implicated Rogerson in a bedside statement six days after the shooting. Again, Mr McDonald has denied this.

The report said: "Rogerson was discounted as a suspect by McDonald, who directed his questions solely to the bribe offer and nothing to the shooting."

Mr McDonald said: "I completely disregarded my previous association and or friendship with Rogerson ... those feelings on my previous association had no bearing on the manner in which I went about my task."

In his report, Purnell found no "satisfactory evidence" of a conspiracy between Rogerson and Mr McDonald.

Juries acquitted Rogerson of attempting to bribe Drury in 1985, and in 1989 of conspiring to murder him.

However in 1990 Rogerson was convicted of conspiracy to defeat justice.

He was released after a successful appeal, but later was convicted of opening bank accounts under a false name. NSW police have confirmed he is now out of jail.

In his report, Purnell attempted to rationalise why Rogerson was not convicted in the original two trials.

He said the attempted bribery charge was thwarted when two associates of Drury, Detectives Roussos and Smith, changed their evidence.

And because Rogerson was found "not guilty" of the attempted bribery charge, Drury's evidence of attempted bribery was disallowed at the conspiracy to murder trial.

The second trial therefore came down to the credibility of Williams against the credibility of Rogerson.

As the Governor's husband, Mr McDonald performs some role jointly with Mrs Forde. In 1993 Governor-General Bill Hayden made Mr McDonald a Commander Brother of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem at a ceremony at Government House.