Cop knew of Bassam Hamzy kill order: ‘Send me his finger’
When a murderer tells you something bad is about to happen, you pay attention.
In the case of young detective Mark Zdjelar, the murderer also happened to be a very useful criminal informant, who had spilled the beans on his gangland associates on numerous occasions and had helped police lock up seriously dangerous offenders.
Zdjelar was used to midnight phone calls from all kinds of informants offering all kinds of information: but this was different.
The man, a southeast Asian crime figure, claimed he'd been approached by one of the country's top Middle Eastern gangsters, Bassam Hamzy, to murder a Crown witness.
At the time Hamzy, who had founded the Brothers 4 Life gang, was on remand, charged with the 1998 murder of a man at Darlinghurst's Mr Goodbar nightclub.
A criminal associate had turned Crown witness and Hamzy wanted him dead.
"(Hamzy) had approached our informant to murder this guy," Zdjelar reveals in a thrilling new episode of podcast I Catch Killers with Gary Jubelin.
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"(The informant) was known to do that kind of badness. (He said) 'Well, they're going to pay me this, we've already organised the gun, I've already been on a drive-by with them. There were all these stages of planning and preparation."
Zdjelar rang his bosses, who replied: "Oh God."
And then the dilemma began: Zdjelar couldn't let the murder happen, but if the informant pulled out, Hamzy would get suspicious and the police wouldn't be able to charge him with anything.
"Once someone's engaged (the informant as a hitman) you've got to say yeah you'll do it because if not it goes out to market and then you don't have control," Zdjelar says.
Zdjelar had to tell the informant to play along but tell Hamzy he wasn't available for this particular job, and introduce him to a "friend" who could do it instead.
The friend was an undercover policeman, 'Jack', whom Hamzy ordered to assassinate the witness, cut off his finger and bring it to Hamzy in jail as proof of the kill.
Jack wore a listening device to record Hamzy, in the meeting area at Silverwater Remand Centre.
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A court later heard Jack's evidence that Hamzy whispered: "I need someone dead ASAP … we will use the word 'rob' for kill … it will all be given to you outside."
The recording captured Jack asking: "So you don't care how I do it as long as he's dead? Do you want the body found or …?"
The audio played in court captured Hamzy replying: "Doesn't matter."
Hamzy was convicted of conspiracy to murder and sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment. He remains in jail serving that sentence along with others.
Zdjelar recalls marvelling at his luck that the informant was providing such valuable information, telling his wife the police had become a second family to him once he gave up a life of crime.
"This guy, he's a bit lost because he had a gang and now we're his gang," Zdjelar says.
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Originally published as Cop knew of Bassam Hamzy kill order: 'Send me his finger'