THE WILD PROSPECTING RUSHES of the 1890's, Western Australia
has been a major source of gold. The soft yellow metal is
found in the deep mines of Kalgoorlie's fabulous 'golden mile';
in the desert heat at Telfer and other remote mine sites;
and fossicked out from old creek beds and the slopes of the
many auriferous ridges in the State. Because of its continuous
supply of the precious commodity, the capital of Western Australia,
Perth, has operated one of the few Mints in the country, a
place where the raw metal is melted, purified and moulded
into bars of gleaming wealth. The bullion is stacked in vaults
below the well-guarded battlements of the Perth Mint, secured
from attack by numerous electronic devices and armed watchmen.
On 22 June 1982, with false signatures on three stolen blank
cheques, three separately-engaged armed courier services arrived
at the Mint. They were separately admitted and were given
bars of gold with a combined value of $650,000. Following
their telephoned instructions, the armed vehicles delivered
the boxes of gold to an office in a business house only 3km
away, where a temporary secretary unknowingly signed for the
receipt of the 'goods'. Another temporary employee, also instructed
by telephone and CB radio, arrived and picked up the `goods',
allegedly taking the three heavy boxes to Jandakot Airport.
From that moment the gold disappeared. No trace of it has
ever been found! Neither has there been any sign of gold bullion
stolen from a North Kalgurli Mines shipment in February of
that same year, valued at some $350,000. Nor has any trace
been uncovered of some $250,000 worth of gold bars taken from
TAA Flight 15 from Perth to Melbourne just eleven days before
the Mint parted with its gold. Nor have any leads been uncovered
in the theft of $15,000 in gold coins 'lost' only nine days
after the Mint job, between Perth city and Kewdale freight
The grand total of unrecovered bullion stolen in Western Australia
in the first six months of 1982 exceeds $1,250,000. On 4 March
1983 three brothers, Raymond, Peter and Brian Mickelberg were
convicted of the Mint swindle. Raymond received 20 years with
a minimum of 12 years, Peter received 16 years with a minimum
of 9 years, and Brian received 12 years with a minimum of
Subsequently, on 4 November 1983, Brian Mickelberg was released
from gaol following a successful appeal against his conviction.
This book does not argue whether or not the Mickelberg brothers,
Raymond and Peter, were a party to the swindling of the Mint.
It does, however, exhibit the most profound doubt as to the
presentation of the Crown case, offering material which indicates
that a far more serious conspiracy was possible: A conspiracy
to manufacture evidence, both forensic and confessional, in
a deliberate and successful plan to convict men who might
otherwise have been acquitted for lack of evidence.
It is an indictment of unsound police methods, and of a cynical
legal system which knowingly accepts the tainted evidence
of unsigned 'confessions', unsupported by independent corroboration
either by audio tape or video recordings, or the presence
of a lawyer or independent person - and denied consistently
by the alleged confessors.
The system is known as 'verballing'.
Newspapers across Australia recorded that the Mickelbergs
were given some of the heaviest sentences ever meted out in
this country for a crime which involved no individual victim
and in which there was not the slightest hint of violence
or public risk.
The Mickelbergs are now serving sentences, the newspapers
pointed out, that were heavier than those given for multiple
rapes, armed robbery, crimes of violence, and even outright