It’s good to know that sometimes your hard investigative slog yields results, so the announcement on Channel 7 news last night that Queensland’s Attorney-General Yvette D’ath has ordered the State Coroner to hold an inquest into the death of Shirley Brifman, the brothel madam turned informant who died mysteriously during the night of March 1972 in a supposed police safe house, just weeks before she was to give evidence as the star witness in the perjury trial of police officer Tony Murphy, one of the pivotal figures in the infamous ‘rat pack’ that was the epicenter of Queensland Police Corruption during the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s. Shirley, who good judges are certain was at one time Murphy’s mistress, was just 35 at the time of her death.
Brifman’s daughter Mary-Anne has been agitating for an inquest into her mother’s death for a number of years, and will today be celebrating the first step in a long journey during which she hopes the Coroner will finally establish that her mother was murdered rather than died of a drug overdose, which was the cause of death proffered by police and accepted by authorities at the time.
Mary-Anne – these days is a born again Christian, but in darker days was once herself a teenage prostitute whose early career was the catalyst for her her mother’s decision to turn informer against Murphy after she (Shirley) was arrested and charged with pimping out her child – also hopes that the Coroner might both formally identify both the reason for Shirley’s murder (which appears self-evident: to prevent her from spilling the beans on Murphy and his associates) and pinpoint the identity of her killer.
Early last year this website published new information uncovered by our research team (and reprinted below) that revealed that then Detective Ron Redmond – a rising star in the corrupt Queensland police force who a decade and a half later was to become Commissioner after the fall from grace of his friend and boss, the deeply corrupt Terry Lewis – had ad the time of Shirley Brifman’s death been living with his wife Fay in a unit only a 30m across the other side of the road from the woman who planned to give evidence against his police mates that, if proven, would likely see them sent to jail.
It seemed to us curious that this seemingly highly relevant and vitally important fact had been omitted from both the police reports and the public discourse, particularly given that witnesses including Mary-Anne Brifman said that Shirley received a visit from a middle-aged woman – speculated at the time and later to have been Maureen Murphy, the wife of Tony, who denies such assertions – at her police safe house on the night of 3 March 1972, just hours before her death.
We were also intrigued by Redmond’s rapid rise through the police ranks after Shirley’s death, and wondered in particular about the source of the Detective’s seemingly sudden accumulation of wealth that allowed him just a couple of years later to purchase a mansion in the millionaire’s belt of upper Clayfield, just a short walk from an even bigger mansion purchased at around the same time by Redmond’s contemporary Donald Frederick Lane, a police officer turned politician with such inextricable links to Murphy, Lewis and the other Rat Pack members that some people say he was its’ secret leader.
An optimist might say that with the announcement of the inquiry into Shirley’s death now perhaps all will become clear. But we suggest however that you don’t hold your breath, for after all this is Queensland, a penal colony built of blood, smoke and mirrors, in which deception is reality, and where truth is just a whimsical dream.
Don’t you worry about that.