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Perth Mint The Perth Mint Swindle is the popular name of a 22 June 1982 gold robbery at the Perth Mint in Perth, Western Australia. A total of 49 gold bars weighing 68 kg were stolen. The value of the gold at the time was A$653,000. According to police, three brothers, Ray, Peter and Brian Mickelberg, stole cheques from a Perth building society and then fooled the mint into accepting those cheques in exchange for the gold, which the brothers had picked up by a courier. The gold was delivered to Jandakot Airport, from where it disappeared. The brothers were all charged and found guilty of the conspiracy and sentenced in 1983 to twenty, sixteen and twelve years in jail respectively. All three convictions were later overturned. To date the case remains unsolved and continues to be fought by the Mickelbergs who maintain their innocence and allege a conspiracy by the police to frame them. Contents 1 The Mickelberg brothers 2 A book about the case 3 See also 4 References 5 Further reading The Mickelberg brothers Soon after the robbery police investigations focused on the Mickelberg brothers. According to the police, the brothers stole cheques from a Perth building society and then fooled the mint into accepting those cheques in exchange for gold bullion, which it was alleged, the brothers had a courier pick up. The gold was picked up by a security company who delivered it to an office in Perth and then to Jandakot Airport, from where it seemingly disappeared. In a separate matter, in September 1982 the three brothers, their parents and another man Brian Pozzi were charged over a swindle relating to a manufactured gold nugget known as the "Yellow Rose of Texas".[1] Perth Businessman Alan Bond had purchased the nugget for $350,000 in November 1980. It was later found to be worth less than $150,000 and Raymond Mickelberg and Brian Pozzi pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to fraud at their June 1984 trial. After serving nine months of his jail term and having his conviction overturned on appeal, Brian was released from jail but died in a light airplane air crash on 27 February 1986 when the twin-engine plane he was flying ran out of fuel on the outskirts of Perth.[2] Whilst in prison, Ray and Peter embarked on a series of seven appeals against their convictions, essentially on the grounds that their confessions had been fabricated. Ray and Peter served eight and six years of their sentences respectively before being released on parole. In a bizarre twist, in 1989, 55 kg of gold pellets, presumed to have been from the swindle, were found outside the gates of TVW-7 (currently Channel Seven Perth), a Perth television station, with a note addressed to one of the station's reporters, protesting the Mickelberg's innocence and claiming that a prominent Perth businessman was behind the swindle.[3] In 2002, midway through a State Royal Commission into police corruption, a retired police officer who had been at the centre of the case and who was present at the interviews with the Mickelbergs, Tony Lewandowski, made a confession of his involvement in fabricating evidence which was used to help frame the brothers. He was subsequently charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice, making false statements, fabricating evidence and perjury.[4] In May 2004, just before facing trial, Lewandowski committed suicide. Lewandowski's senior officer during the investigation and the other person who had been present at the brothers' interviews was Detective Sergeant Don Hancock who later went on to become head of the State Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB). Hancock was directly implicated in fabricating evidence in the Mickelberg case by Lewandowski's confession.[5] In September 2001 in an apparently unrelated issue, Hancock was murdered after a car bomb planted under his car exploded outside his home in Rivervale, killing him and a friend Lou Lewis. In July 2004 the Western Australian Court of Criminal Appeal quashed the brothers' convictions after seven unsuccessful attempts. The judge ruled that with the suppression of their sentence, they were entitled to a presumption of innocence. The Assistant Police Commissioner, Mel Hay, expressed disappointment with the decision which prompted a threat of a defamation lawsuit from the brothers. The brothers subsequently sued the Western Australian government for libel, and as part of the settlement, the West Australian police issued a public apology in December 2007.[6] After lodging claims for compensation, in January 2008 State Attorney-General Jim McGinty offered $500,000 in ex-gratia payments to each brother for the "injustice done to them".[7] The payment followed $658,672 paid to cover legal costs of their two appeals. The Mickelbergs’ lawyer had asked for $950,000 in compensation for Ray and $750,000 for Peter.[8] A book about the case Author Avon Lovell wrote a book about the case, The Mickelberg Stitch (1985) in which he described questionable investigation practices by the Western Australian Police Force and made allegations of unsigned confessions and a forged fingerprint.[9] The police union collected a levy of $1 per week from each member to fund legal action against Lovell and his publishers and distributors to suppress publication of the book. It was estimated that between one and two million dollars was raised. The book was banned by the State Government, but was still freely available to be read at the J S Battye Library. The ban was eventually lifted. A second book by Lovell, "Split Image", was published in 1990 and met a similar fate to the "Mickelberg Stitch". This ban was also lifted later. In March 2011, Lovell launched his third and final book on the Mickelbergs with the title "Litany of Lies" which completes the whole astonishing story of the Perth Mint Swindle. In this book, Lovell finds it impossible to keep himself out of the story because the corruption of the police, the lack of diligence on the part of the judiciary, the protective behaviour of various politicians and the odd lack of interest by the press all impacted negatively on him. This book has, so far, not been banned and is available on-line and at Elizabeth's Bookshop. See also Crime in Western Australia References ^ "Mickelbergs sue policeman". ABC 7:30 Report. http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2004/s1148111.htm. Retrieved 2009-11-23.  ^ "Mickelberg Dies". Sydney Morning Herald. 28 February 1986. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=s2MUAAAAIBAJ&sjid=KOgDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4990,8172242&dq=brian+mickelberg+crash&hl=en. Retrieved 2009-11-23.  ^ Liza Kappelle (June 11 2002). "Mint robbers were framed". Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/06/10/1022982819650.html. Retrieved May 5, 2010.  ^ "Mint swindle officer seized". Sydney Morning Herald. 2002-10-03. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/10/03/1033538678821.html?oneclick=true. Retrieved 2005-09-07.  ^ "Don Hancock and the Perth Mint Swindle". MelbourneCrime. Archived from the original on 2005-09-03. http://web.archive.org/web/20050903031437/http://www.melbournecrime.bizhosting.com/bhancock.htm. Retrieved 2005-09-07.  ^ "Police apologise to Mickelberg brothers". www.ninemsn.com.au. December 15. http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=337171&rss=yes.  ^ "Mickelberg payment satisfies neither brothers nor police". thewest.com.au. 16 January 2008. http://www.thewest.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=77&ContentID=54634. Retrieved 2009-02-17. [dead link] ^ ABC News online Micklebergs cleared over Perth Mint swindle ^ "This time, the stitch is by Lovell". Post Newspapers. http://www.postnewspapers.com.au/20020615/. Retrieved 2005-09-07. [dead link] Further reading Lovell, Avon Francis (1985). The Mickelberg Stitch. Creative Research, Perth. ISBN 0908469233.  Buti, Antonio (2011). Brothers: Justice, Corruption and the Mickelbergs. Fremantle Press. ISBN 9781921888472.  Lovell, Avon Francis (1990). Split image: international mystery of the Mickelberg affair. Creative Research, Perth. 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