... So that You may be kept informed

Vic: Former drug squad detective charged with murder

13 Feb 2009 7:11 PM

MELBOURNE, Feb 13 AAP - A former drug squad detective charged with the murder of a police informer says he wants his day in court.

Paul Dale, 39, was arrested at the service station he runs in Wangaratta, in Victoria's northeast, on Friday morning and later charged with the murder of Terence Hodson.

Dale was interviewed by Petra task force detectives investigating the execution-style murder of Hodson and his wife Christine in 2004 at their Kew home.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Simon Overland said police would allege Dale commissioned Hodson's murder.

Dale has consistently asserted his innocence in relation to the Hodson deaths, saying Terence Hodson was involved in high-level drug trafficking involving corrupt police around Australia and internationally.

The couple was allegedly murdered after Hodson agreed to give evidence against Dale over the attempted theft of $1.3 million worth of ecstasy pills.

The one-time detective was Hodson's main police contact and, after being accused of leaking information to criminals that Hodson was a police informer and benefiting from his murder, charges against him were dropped.

He was charged on Friday with one count of murder and appeared unrepresented in Wangaratta Magistrates Court for a filing hearing.

Chief crown prosecutor with the Office of Public Prosecutions, Gavin Silbert, SC, sought an adjournment to prepare a police brief of evidence.

"This inquiry has been going on five years. Any further delay is an abuse of powers," Dale said.

"I want my day in court. I object to any delay in the service of briefs.

"This is going to turn my life upside down.

"I am anxious to get these matters before the courts to clear my name."

Mr Silbert said time was needed to transcribe telephone intercepts and listening devices.

But Dale, of Wangaratta, continued his objection and said: "Any delay to this is only going to cause my life further stress."

He said there had been a record of interview with police "of some length" and the case against him was based on a statement from a serious career criminal.

Dale said he was a businessman and family man and the charge would be vigorously defended.

Mr Silbert sought a suppression order relating to a witness and gave documentation to magistrate Lance Martin.

Dale sought access to the material, saying: "They should not be withholding any information that they are relying on for this charge today."

Mr Martin said he was satisfied it was inappropriate to release the document at present.

Dale made no application for bail.

Last September, Victoria's police watchdog, the Office of Police Integrity (OPI), recommended charging Dale with offences in relation to the Hodson murders, including attempting to pervert the course of justice, after an extensive investigation.

"The suspicion of police involvement in the murders of Terry and Christine Hodson in 2004 shook public confidence in Victoria Police and was a catalyst in the formation of the Office of Police Integrity," OPI director Michael Strong said in a statement on Friday.

"Since then, OPI has been actively involved, with the Petra Task Force, in the investigation of these murders.

"The arrest today is the result of almost five years of painstaking investigation.

"The developments that led to the arrest today will emerge as the evidence unfolds in the court proceedings."

The case has been adjourned to the Melbourne Magistrates Court on June 19.