Robert Trimbole : biography
Robert Trimbole (19 March 1931 – 12 May 1987) was an Australian businessman, drug baron and organised crime boss whose alleged involvement in the disappearance of anti-marijuana campaigner Donald Mackay and involvement in drug trafficking in the Griffith, New South Wales area, led to a royal commission, a Coroner's inquest and an international chase by the Australian Government seeking his arrest and capture after his escape to Ireland.
Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities
Trimbole is a central character in the drama series Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities, a mini-series on the Nine Network. He is portrayed by actor Roy Billing.
Trimbole was born on 19 March 1931 to Italian parents who migrated from the southern Italian region of Calabria. In 1952, Trimbole married Joan Quested in Sydney then moved to his parents' house in Griffith, New South Wales. After several months Robert and Joan moved into their own rented property and raised their four children.
He rented a nearby garage and operated his own panel beating and spray painting business before declaring himself bankrupt in 1968 with debts of A$11,000. Shortly after, his business was mysteriously destroyed by fire, and all records were lost.
Disappearance of Donald Mackay
Donald Bruce Mackay was a local politician, and anti-drugs campaigner. He was born and raised in Griffith, New South Wales, and operated his family's furniture business. Described as being very community minded, Mackay was an Australian Liberal Party candidate from 1973 to 1976, but failed to win a seat in parliament.
Concerned about the growing drug trade in his local area, and learning of a large crop of marijuana in nearby Coleambally, New South Wales, Mackay told Sydney police of the information he had obtained regarding the crop, which resulted in several arrests, and four men of Italian descent being convicted on Mackay's information.
Unfortunately for Mackay, at the trial of the men arrested, his name was read out during evidence, identifying him as the whistleblower. An attempt was made to lure Mackay to Jerilderie by an unidentified man who wished to make a large order of furniture from Mackay's family business. Mackay, busy at the time of the planned meeting with other matters, sent an employee, who travelled to Jerilderie to find nobody about.
On 15 July 1977, Mackay disappeared from the Griffith Hotel car park after having drinks with friends, and his body has never been found. At the scene of Mackay's disappearance, his locked van had bloodstains on the door, wheel rim, mudguard and tyre and Mackay's car keys and three spent .22 casings were found at the scene. Trimbole is believed to have arranged the contract style killing of Mackay.Bottom, Shadow of Shame, p. 46
Seven years after the Woodward Royal Commission, political and media pressure called for an inquest into Mackay's death, which was eventually held before Coroner Bruce Brown.
The inquest also heard evidence showing that lights in the car park had been broken before the meeting time set with Mackay, indicating a premeditated act to ambush him, and that Mackay feared for his life after learning that the crop leading to the convictions of the four men had an estimated street value of more than A$25 million.
Evidence was also submitted regarding a man by the name of Patrick Joseph Keenan who made a statement to police that he had walked into a shed in the Griffth area and found Antonio Sergi inside with several women packing large quantities of marijuana into plastic bags.
Forensic evidence supported the crown's case, including ballistic evidence showing that the three .22 cases found at the scene had been fired from the same weapon, a French "Unique" brand hand gun. Blood and hair samples were also recovered from the scene and matched to Mackay.
Coroner Brown said, "The evidence has now reached the point where I am of the opinion that a prima facie case of murder, in that each was an accessory before or after the fact, has been established against two known persons whose identity I must not publicly reveal in accordance with the prohibition under section 19 of the Coroners Act."
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