Jamie Gao was a young criminal murdered by ex-detectives Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara in May 2014. The experienced detectives made a series of blunders, which included allowing many of their actions to be caught on CCTV cameras. The resulting footage, edited together and screened on TV, provides one of the most comprehensive documentations of any well known murder.
Rogerson was 75 and for over 40 years has been Sydney’s most notorious serving and then ex-detective. McNamara was 57 and had retired from the force years ago and written a book about the corruption he’d experienced there and what he claimed to have done to resist it. Some insiders say he exaggerated this, but he does not appear to have been a corrupt cop. Since his retirement, he had been working as an insurance investigator and writing true crime books. So his relationship with Rogerson surprised most when they heard of it, after both men were charged with murder. They were found guilty in 2016 of shooting Gao to get their hands on a 2.78 kilogram bag of ice worth some $3 million retail.
CCTV showed the three men going into a storage unit in Padstow, with two coming out, carrying a large and apparently heavy surf board bag. They took Gao’s body out to sea in McNamara’s boat and sunk it off shore, no doubt assuming that without a body no one would link them to the murder. Perhaps their biggest mistake was not to put sufficient weights with the body, which was found floating by fishermen off Cronulla six days later.
At the trial, each ex-detective blamed the other for the murder, but it didn’t matter, as there was no doubt they’d been engaged in a joint criminal enterprise, and were therefore equally responsible. The law takes a particularly dim view of murder committed solely for money. They were sentenced to life in prison.
One odd aspect of the trial was the Crown’s claim that Karl Bonnette had helped the duo buy a car used in the crime. Bonnette is an elderly survivor of the Sydney underworld of the 1960s and 1970s, and was allegedly a major financier of drug importations back in the day (something he denies). There is no suggestion he had any involvement in the killing of Jamie Gao.
Another curiosity about the relationship of Rogerson and McNamara emerged in 2017 during the trial of Ron Medich for murder (hung jury). It was claimed the duo had spoken with a witness wanting their help in getting money from Medich in return for changing his evidence. If true, it suggests that McNamara was working with Rogerson on matters other than just the Gao murder.