How the office manager’s brutal ‘revenge murder’, in which a disgruntled worker shot him in his driveway, led to an entire council losing their jobs nearly two years later
- Entire Moira Shire Council Fired After Worker’s Murder
- Rick Devlin, an operations manager, passed away in August 2021
An entire council has lost its job less than two years after a senior manager was shot by a disgruntled employee.
Events following the murder, governance concerns, flood control efforts, major infrastructure construction, the transportation of asbestos and other issues such as health and safety were also investigated by a Moira Shire Council inquiry in northern Victoria.
On Tuesday, the state government introduced legislation to fire the council and appoint an administrator, as recommended by the commission.
Elections to replace the councilors are not expected to take place until 2028.
Local government minister Melissa Horne described the report as “deeply concerning.”
Local government minister Melissa Horne (pictured) said she fired the entire Moira Shire Council based on the recommendations of an inquiry
“Councils must properly represent the communities they serve, and the residents of Moira deserve to have a council that puts their best interests first,” Ms Horne said in a statement.
An ongoing panel of directors will monitor this interim appointment and will be tasked with addressing the serious issues identified in the report so that elections can be held in Moira Shire in 2028.
“I am confident that trustees will restore good governance to the Moira Shire Council and lay a foundation for building effective leadership, project execution, community involvement and a positive culture within the Council.”
The committee has referred evidence to the coroner about events related to the death of Rick Devlin, the council’s manager of operations.
Former Councilor Andrew Robert Paterson is serving a minimum 21-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to the August 2021 murder of Mr Devlin.
The court heard in October 2022 that Paterson shot Mr Devlin as he stood in the driveway of his rural home in Victoria – once in the chest and once in the head.
In August 2021, Moira Shire Council operations manager Rick Devlin (pictured) was shot dead by his colleague in a ‘revenge attack’ at his home in northern Victoria.
He mistakenly believed that Mr. Devlin was involved in a harassment campaign against him at work, even though the men had no daily contact.
The Shepparton Supreme Court previously heard that Devlin was not Paterson’s direct supervisor, but he held the manager responsible for the problems he had at work.
According to the commission’s report, there was good reason to believe that Mr Devlin’s death could have been prevented and that the environment of the Nathalia depot where Mr Paterson worked was fundamentally unsafe.
“These events and their tragic consequences represent, on many levels, a catastrophic failure of governance,” the report said.
It said the council’s senior executives should have been aware of the risks in the depot since 2017, when an outside investigator found evidence of a dysfunctional and toxic culture.
The entire Moira Shire Council was fired after an investigation found the council had “serious problems”. The investigation was launched following the murder of a municipal clerk
The commission also contacted the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission about two cases of alleged corrupt behaviour.
The report found that the governance of Moira Shire Council had deteriorated to the point that it could no longer carry out its responsibilities under the Local Government Act.
An interim administrator is appointed for three months before a longer-term panel of administrators is found.
It is the fourth council dismissed by the Andrews government since 2019, following the resignations of Whittlesea, South Gippsland Shire and Casey councils.
Moira Shire Council and Mayor Peter Lawless have been contacted for comment.
A new council is expected to be elected by 2028, with the region led by a panel of directors until then (photo: Moira region in northern Victoria)