Anthony Perish

Perish ran a major drug manufacturing and distribution business for over a decade on the east coast, managing to build a fearsome reputation in the underworld while escaping police attention almost completely. He was brought undone by a personal killing.

In the September 2011 trial of Anthony Perish and his brother Andrew that convicted them for the murder of drug manufacturer and informant Terry Falconer, the media could not name eight of the people on the witness list, some of them hardened criminals themselves. This anonymity was not enough for the main Crown witness, Witness E, who when he got into the box refused to give any evidence. Despite this, and despite the outcome of the trial, we will never be able to reveal his name or that of any of the other protected witnesses. The continuing influence of the Perish brothers is considered just too great.

People who get on the wrong side of the Perishes disappear.

In 2001, pieces of the 52-years-old Terry Falconer were found in the Hastings River. Strike Force Tuno was set up and became the biggest murder investigation in the state’s history. While pursuing the Perishes (Andrew was a former president of the Campbelltown chapter of the rebels) it discovered connections between them and many other killings. None has yet been solved.

Shed at Girvan where Terry Falconer was dismembered.
Shed at Girvan where Terry Falconer was dismembered.

Anthony and Andrew Perish grew up in semi-rural Leppington in south-west Sydney. In 1993 their elderly grandparents were shot dead in their home, a mysterious crime that remains unsolved to this day.

By then Anthony was on the run, after a warrant was issued for his arrest the year before for supplying amphetamines, which he’d been cooking in a shed on the family property. He was 23 at the time and spent the next 14 years hiding out at various places, including north Turramurra, Queensland, a property at Girvan (between Buladelah and Scone), and South Australia, where he had connections with the Gypsy Jokers and the major amphetamine manufacturer and disgraced solicitor Justin Birk Hill.

In 1994 Andrew Perish was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture amphetamines. In those less punitive times he received a fine of $2,500. The next year he killed Kai Dempsey in a brawl at the Railway Hotel in Liverpool and was charged with murder. At the committal, the Crown claimed witnesses had been harassed and one of them had been offered a paid holiday not to give evidence. At the trial in 1998, Andrew was found not guilty and witness Ian Draper subsequently disappeared. His car was found outside the Rebels’ club house in Leppington.

An important figure in the Perish network was Witness E, a former Army Reserve commando who shot and killed people for Anthony Perish. He was the one who kidnapped Falconer from his place of work and delivered him to Perish. The motive seems to have been Anthony’s belief that Falconer had killed his grandparents, although there was also a suspicion that Falconer was informing to the police about the drug-dealing activities of the Rebels.

When Strike Force Tuno was set up to investigate Falconer’s murder, according to its chief, Detective Inspector Gary Jubelin, “It was like a who’s who of NSW’s hardest criminals who had a motive and means to murder Falconer. We had a list of about 70 people of interest early in the investigation.” But no one was saying much: “The brutality of the crime sent out a message to other criminal informants about the consequences of assisting the authorities.”

Strike Force Tuno did not get onto the Perishes until mid-2008, when an informant told them he’d been hired back in 2001 to dispose of Terry Falconer’s body at sea. The disposal had not gone ahead, but the informant was prepared to give evidence in return for assistance with relocating and acquiring a new identity. Tuno detectives began to watch Anthony Perish and learned of the important relationship with Witness E. Soon they broke the code the men used on the phone, and were keeping them under almost constant surveillance. They discovered Witness E owned a property in remote bushland near Mudgee. Anthony Perish and a convicted drug manufacturer poured a slab there for what was obviously going to be a very large building. Police surveillance discovered that a large hidden basement had been built beneath the slab, presumably to be used as a drug laboratory.

Picture on wall of Girvan house.
Picture on wall of Girvan house.

In December Witness E agreed to provide armed protection for a drug dealer named Tran in a meeting with an unhappy customer named Paul Elliott, who’d been sold a large quantity of low grade methamphetamine. But he had to drop out and the job was done by one Michael Christiansen, who is now in jail for killing Elliott and dumping him at sea in a metal toolbox.

In January 2009 police had enough information to arrest Anthony Perish and Witness E for Falconer’s murder. Says Detective Jubelin, “We couldn’t afford for them to get bail. If they had, there would have been ramifications for the witnesses.” The arrests occurred at the Blues Café at McMahon’s Point.

Tuno was one of the most successful investigations in Australia’s history. Fourteen people were convicted with over 100 offences, many of them very serious. Detectives have continued to investigate Anthony Perish’s drug business, locating property in several states and tracing connections between him and other murders via Witness E, who died in custody in 2014.


SOURCE: Bad by Michael Duffy