Machine Gun Charlie back in court over ‘Lawyer X’ scandal

Date: 2022-01-13 03:41:29

A kickboxing champion who is behind bars for trafficking heroin is back in court claiming he was jailed on fabricated evidence.

A champion kickboxer and convicted drug trafficker known as ‘Machine Gun Charlie’ is back in court over the infamous “Lawyer X” scandal.

Dragan Arnautovic has spent various stints behind bars since the 1990s for drug trafficking offences.

His latest sentence was handed down in May 2018 when he was jailed for a non-parole period of eight years after he was found guilty by a County Court jury of trafficking a commercial quantity of heroin and methylamphetamine in November and December 2016.

He served three other jail sentences between 1999 and 2012, but it’s his 1999 conviction that Arnautovic claimed in his submissions was a “miscarriage of justice”.

Arnautovic’s matter was on Thursday heard before judicial registrar Deirdre McCann in Victoria’s Court of Appeal, where he is seeking leave to appeal a conviction from 1999.

Arnautovic was convicted of trafficking a commercial quantity of heroin in Victoria’s County Court that year.

But he now claims he was jailed on “fabricated evidence” and “police corruption” at the hands of Nicola Gobbo, known as Lawyer X, a submission he made to the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants states.

Arnautovic’s lawyers have until January 27 to file a written statement and the respondents until February 10, the court was told.

But Judge McCann quipped at why it had taken so long for parties to file required documents.

“I’m a bit bemused by that,” she told the court.

“It’s obviously quite an old case.”

The royal commission investigated the use of Ms Gobbo as an informer by Victoria Police.

A submission from Arnautovic, which was published on the RCMPI website, claimed Lawyer X conspired with several high profile lawyers, police officers and other people of authority to “pervert the course of justice for financial gain”.

“At the same time using me as a scapegoat to justify the expensive police operation and to enhance their personal profile with police,” he wrote.

Ms Gobbo was an informer for police between 2005 and 2009 while acting as a legal adviser for some of Australia’s most infamous criminals, including Arnautovic, in Victoria.

In the submission, Arnautovic claimed the drug charges laid against him after his arrest in 1997 were “grossly magnified”.

Arnautovic was jailed for a maximum of 12 years in 1999 after being convicted of trafficking heroin worth $1m, but was released three years early on parole.

The matter will return to court at a later date.

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