“Murphy remembers his time behind bars, and his forced return to The Service”
Murphy watched as the detective scanned the files on the computer. They both knew they had the evidence they needed to get the guy they were after; to cripple his operation permanently. The detective thought he could put the guy in jail. Murphy smiled a little at his naivety, knowing that would never happen.
He thought how different things were now, compared to a year ago. He supposed he was back to being the good guy again, as far as the powers that be were concerned. He had a moment of anger about that, but let it pass quickly. His mind wandered back a year, as the cop excitedly ran through the information Murphy had given him.
As he had been marched through the main gate into the jail, wrists bound with the latest style in stainless steel handcuffs, he had mused on how things had gone so wrong. He had known he was in a rut, living out the same old thing day after day. He knew there was more to life than just teaching computer classes month after month, year after year.
He had started an Aboriginal Reconciliation group in town. The very first meeting attracted over ninety people. As it turned out, that upset some of the misguided police in town, who still thought that all blacks needed to be kept in their place.
The next day, he was arrested for the first time, and kept overnight in a cell at the police station. The charge was stealing a text book from the college he had taught at for three years. He was found not guilty, after police admitted they had actually put the book in his house during their first illegal search, then “found” it later when they finally got a search warrant. The managers of the college stated they had simply followed the police lead, feeling they had no choice to do otherwise.
It was at that time a former colleague of Murphy’s, from the jail where he had worked, asked Murphy to do them a favour. To pretend to be a prisoner, to talk to an inmate about a case Murphy had worked on years before. Murphy had said no. that sort of undercover was way too dangerous.
After another fourteen such arrests, and acquittals, Murphy was finally found guilty and sentenced, for supposedly assaulting a woman he had met at a disco. At the subsequent appeal eighteen months later, he was again acquitted. After each arrest, his former colleague asked for the same favour. Murphy knew he needed to be worried.
The appeal judge’s decision when finding Murphy not guilty was made easier by the fact that the lady in question had three other men in court on the same day as my appeal, on the exact same charges, but all separate incidents. She also had eight prior matters in the previous five years, with eight different men being sent to jail, for exactly the same thing. Her criminal compensation payments from the government meant she could afford a very comfortable lifestyle. Murphy mused that she was now now in jail herself for the repeated false complaints. When her police protector was retired psychologically unfit, so was she.
Murphy remembered the sentencing for a crime everyone, including the judge, knew he hadn’t committed. It had been devastating, but not entirely unexpected. he remembered quite clearly the judge stating “I sentence you to eighteen years imprisonment.”
“That’s not good,” he had thought to himself, “that’s definitely not good. Not good at all.”
His lawyer stood up and cleared his throat. “With all due respect your honour, eighteen years seems rather excessive.”
The judge seemed confused, as though he wasn’t quite sure where he was. “Did I say eighteen years?” He gave a nervous laugh, and smiled a false smile. “I’m sorry, I meant eighteen MONTHS. There, I hope that’s better now.”
It wasn’t really. Eighteen months still seemed like a hell of a long time, and he knewhe had been set up. He noticed his former colleague was one of the court officers that day.
He was marched into the jail he knew so well from when he was a guard there. There was Smithy at the main gate, who he had known for ten years. The gate Keeper gave an incredulous single laugh, and seemed not to know what to say. He shrugged his shoulders and shook his head slowly “So I guess you’re not coming fishing on the weekend?” he asked of Murphy.
Murphy laughed, recognising he was trying to make the best of an awkward situation. “Doesn’t look like it,” I replied, taking the cigarette he offered.
He was taken to the high security section of the jail, reserved for high-risk-of-escape prisoners. There was a guard there who was new to the job. Murphy didn’t know him. He was stripped naked, and put in a completely empty cell, no blankets, no mattress, just a cold concrete floor and an open window with bars on it. It was snowing outside, and the icy wind blew through the cell. He had never seen this done when he was a guard. He guessed he was getting primed for something.
“You’re on suicide watch,” the guard had said, with a sneer that showed he enjoyed what he was doing. “We can’t risk giving you clothes or blankets that you might hang yourself with. First time prisoners always cop this.” He slammed the door, and Murphy could hear the bolt slipping into the hasp on the other side, then the key turning in the lock.
“Enjoy your stay at the Hilton.” He called through the door, as he gave it a hard kick to remind me where I was. He couldn’t have possibly understood the irony of what he had said, but I certainly did. The Hilton was the reason Murphy was there. The Hilton would come back to haunt Murphy for many years to come.
Two hours later, the guard was back, with the Governor of the jail. The Governor looked through the perspex walls at Murphy, huddled in the corner, trying to keep warm. There was a genuine remorse in his eyes, mixed with just a hint of anger at the guard. He motioned to the guard, and the door opened. The guard looked scared.
“Get this man his clothes and some blankets, and move him to a cell with a window and heater,” the Governor said. “This cell is condemned.”
The guard started to protest, and the Governor stopped him with a slow and deliberate “Keep your mouth shut.”
They were joined by Murphy’s former colleague, who revealed the true reason for Murphy being there there. Murphy already knew. The Governor was apologetic. “We’ve known each other for a long time, Murphy. I had no idea they were going to do this. I’m not part of them; you know that. I want you to understand that.”
“I know,” Murphy replied. “Unfortunately, now you know that I’m part of their little group. That makes the job harder.” The Governor looked a little worried about that, and left.
“You should have agreed when we asked you last year,” Murphy’s former colleague had stated. “Jesus, mate, I hated doing this, but we needed you, because of what you know about Denning from before.”
“You tried to set me up for his escape back in 1988.”
“That was the idiot cop that Tees got in to help him. Like I told you before, we can deal with him later. But it’s difficult. You know why. You can help us make that easier.”
“What about this cop you’ve had chasing me for the last year? Does he know the whole story?”
“No. He’s another idiot. Couldn’t trust him with anything like that. We didn’t tell him to get the girl involved, either. That’s the trouble with cops. They try to be creative. She’s just a local police informer. I talked to her today, and told her she would be hurt if she didn’t leave town. She won’t be back, and you’ll get out on appeal. Not much we can do about the cop, though. He thought we wanted you because you helped Denning escape.” He smiled, and I had to too.
“Nice touch. I guess I don’t have much choice.”
After that, things were better. Murphy had a lot of experiences in the short time in jail, and, surprisingly, some were actually positive. He got a new outlook on life, and learnt a lot about people in general. He learnt more about himself. He also realised that his situation was a lot more dangerous because of the job he had been forced into.
After four weeks, he was released on bail pending appeal, on condition not stay in or enter New South Wales for any reason except to attend court. Outside the court, his former colleague was waiting.
“The cop is causing a bit of trouble,” he told Murphy. ” He can’t take a hint. We need time to deal with it.”
“Which means you have something else in mind for me,” Murphy replied.
“No. You did the job, so it’s finished.”
“But I didn’t get enough information for what you need to do. I know you too well. It’s not finished. And I am still on bail, so you have the upper hand.”
“They don’t want you doing the Aboriginal stuff in their town. They can’t control you,” he said with a knowing smile. “But we have a job for you on an Aboriginal community in Central Queensland, where you can do the work you like, and no one will interfere. Does Deputy Principal of a High School sound OK to you? Just go up there for a year, and let things settle down here. The cop won’t be a problem when you come back.” It was much longer than that before Murphy went back.
Twelve months later, the jail sentence was dismissed, and Murphy was sentenced to a two year good behaviour bond, not to enter New South Wales in that two years, for any reason whatsoever. Talk about feeling like you’re not wanted! It wasn’t part of the deal, and Murphy realised that, like it or not, he was back in The Service for the long haul. And they wanted him in Queensland.
Murphy came back to the present. He reflected that a lot of positive things had come out of that four weeks in jail, as well as his time as Deputy Principal at Woora Warra Aboriginal community. In the job he had just completed, his jail experience, from both sides of the bars, had helped him relate to the people in the community. That later led him to working with Aboriginal street kids in Rockhampton, on more Aboriginal communities, and with street people in major cities in Australia and overseas. But The Service were always watching, and sometimes asking for favours.
The cop was excited by the information Murphy had given him, and wanted to know how Murphy had been able to get it.
“It was because I was on the inside,” Murphy replied. The cop was confused by this. Murphy smiled at his own joke, and bid the cop farewell, until another day.