Australia’s most notorious police officer, Roger Rogerson, has been admitted to hospital with a mysterious debilitating illness after being told he would die in jail.
The 82-year-old man was transferred from the elderly and frail unit at Sydney’s Long Bay jail to the prison complex’s maximum-security hospital at the end of June.
Sources said Rogerson’s health had deteriorated rapidly and he now had limited use of his arms, but doctors weren’t sure what exactly was wrong with him.
While his body was reportedly failing him, the same sources said Rogerson, who has had back problems for years and recently suffered a fall, was still mentally alert.
Rogerson is in the same hospital where his former partner in crime, gangster Neddy Smith, died two years ago at age 76 while serving a life sentence for murder.
Australia’s most famous police officer, Roger Rogerson, has been admitted to hospital with a mysterious serious illness after being told he would die in jail. The 82-year-old man was transferred to hospital at Sydney’s Long Bay prison complex in late June.
Rogerson lost his latest bid for freedom in March when the High Court denied him leave to appeal his conviction and life sentence for murder.
He and his former detective Glen McNamara were jailed in 2016 for the 2014 murder of 20-year-old student and would-be drug dealer Jamie Gao.
Gao’s body was found wrapped in a floating tarpaulin off Cronulla in south Sydney after he was shot dead in a $3 million drug deal gone bad.
The Court of Criminal Appeals upheld Rogerson’s conviction in 2021 and Chief Justice Susan Kiefel considered there was no reason to doubt that decision.
Rogerson received multiple bravery awards during his 28-year law enforcement career, but had been the target of serious corruption allegations since the 1980s.
He shot armed robber Phillip Western in Avoca on the Central Coast in 1976 and did the same to mugger Lawrence ‘Butchy’ Byrne in Kingsford in eastern Sydney a year later.
Those shootings earned Rogerson nothing but professional praise, but his reputation changed in 1981 when he fatally shot heroin dealer Warren Lanfranchi in downtown Chippendale.
Rogerson’s exploits are featured in the television drama series Blue Murder. From left to right, Gary Sweet as hitman Chris Flannery, Peter Phelps as Graham ‘Abo’ Henry, Richard Roxburgh as Rogerson and Tony Martin as Neddy Smith.
Lanfranchi had been led to that meeting by Neddy Smith, who would later claim that his criminal associate was unarmed and was trying to bribe Rogerson.
A coroner’s inquest found that Rogerson had been trying to arrest Lanfranchi, but the jury refused to find that he had acted in self-defense as the policeman claimed.
Lanfranchi’s sex worker girlfriend, Sallie-Anne Huckstepp, publicly accused Rogerson of murdering him and stealing the $10,000 he was carrying.
In 1986, Huckstepp’s body was found in a Centennial Park pond. Smith was charged with her murder in 1996 and acquitted after a trial in 1999.
It was alleged that Smith and Rogerson were business partners in the heroin trade, sharing the proceeds from armed robberies. That The relationship was central to the 1995 television series Blue Murder in which Rogerson was played by Richard Roxburgh and Smith by Tony Martin.
In 1984, Rogerson was charged with conspiring to murder Detective Michael Drury, who was shot through his kitchen window in Chatswood on Sydney’s North Shore but survived.
Rogerson, hitman Chris Flannery and Melbourne heroin dealer Alan Williams are alleged to have conspired over the attempt on Drury’s life.
The detective was suspended from the NSW Police Force but cleared of conspiring to murder Drury, whom he is alleged to have attempted to bribe on Williams’s behalf.
Rogerson was fired from the force in 1986 and spent two prison terms: in 1990 for perverting the course of justice and in 2005 for lying under oath to the Police Integrity Commission.
Rogerson embarked on a late stage career telling stories about his life alongside footballer Mark ‘Jacko’ Jackson (left) and earless man Mark ‘Chopper’ Read (right)
He worked in the construction industry supplying scaffolding and stepped on stage in a touring show called The Good, The Bad and The Ugly with ex-AFL stars Warwick Capper and Mark ‘Jacko’ Jackson.
Jackson and Rogerson also teamed up with earless man and author Mark ‘Chopper’ Read for a comedy theater act titled Wild Colonial Psychos.
Rogerson’s final downfall came with the murder of Gao during a meth scam. inside a storage unit in Padstow, in south-west Sydney.
CCTV footage showed Glen McNamara leading Gao into the unit, followed by Rogerson shortly after.
Gao was shot twice in the chest and minutes later McNamara emerged dragging a silver surfboard cover containing his body.
Rogerson and McNamara were found guilty in a 2016 trial and sentenced to life in prison by Judge Geoffrey Bellew, who said each offender was part of a crime “extensive in its planning, brutal in its execution and callous in its consequences.”
Rogerson, handcuffed and limping, is dragged from his Padstow Heights home seven days after Gao’s murder and one day after the would-be drug lord’s body was found washed up at sea.