Leader of the corrupt Rat Pack cops dies, 82

By: Tony Koch

THE alleged leader of the notorious ``Rat Pack'' of corrupt police who ran the Queensland police force in the 1970s and 1980s has died in Brisbane after a long illness.
Former Queensland assistant commissioner of police Tony Murphy, who coined the term ``the joke'' to describe the system of corruption in the Queensland police force which was uncovered in the late 1980s by commissioner Tony Fitzgerald, died in Brisbane yesterday after being in hospital for several months.
Former colleagues of Murphy, 82, were in fear of him, and few would speak against him while he was alive. Evidence has been given at a number of venues over the past few decades that the Rat Pack comprised Murphy, detective Glen Hallahan and former police commissioner Terry Lewis.
In the early 1990s, Hallahan died of cancer and Lewis was sentenced to 14 years' jail when found guilty of corruption after evidence was given about his criminality at the Fitzgerald Commission.
Lewis was the only one of the trio charged after the Fitzgerald inquiry, and Murphy always maintained he was not corrupt.
In testimony to the Fitzgerald inquiry, self-confessed bagman Jack Herbert testified: ``Tony Murphy approached me and he said, `What about including Terry Lewis in the joke?''
Murphy was an energetic and highly successful detective, but several high-profile cases which he handled or was connected with attracted the allegation that he was ``bent'' and would stop at nothing to obtain a conviction.
Conversely, it was also alleged that he would ensure that somebody he was protecting got off charges.
The murder in Brisbane in the 1970s of waterside worker ``Norman the Doorman'' Ford cast the first shadow of suspicion over Murphy.
But that was followed by the one he never shook off -- the 1972 death of prostitute and whistleblower Shirley Brifman, who was found in her flat at 79 Bonney Avenue, Clayfield. Brifman was said to have suffered a ``drug overdose''. She had been due to give evidence against Murphy, who was charged with perjury over evidence he gave to a royal commission investigating, among other matters, prostitution at Brisbane's famous National Hotel.
Brifman had a large amount of drugs and whisky in her stomach when she was found.
It was alleged publicly that ``somebody'' had used a funnel to force a bottle of whisky and the pills down her throat.
Consequently the charges against Murphy were dropped.
Murphy was close to Lewis, and was a constant presence in the public gallery during Lewis' trial and a frequent visitor when Lewis was in jail.