GRAEME Slater makes
it crystal clear the Gypsy Jokers would like to get their hands
on supergrass Sid “Snot” Reid — but only if their former comrade
still has a pulse.
“He’s not much use
to us dead,” Slater tells The Sunday Times in an
exclusive interview at his suburban home.
“In our minds, I
suppose he might be dead to us, but we want him alive — for
Whitey is Gary
White, an associate of the notorious bikie gang now into the
15th year of a 22-year life sentence on the say-so of Reid.
Reid, who also
accused Slater of taking part in the 2001 car bombing murder of
top cop Don Hancock and his mate Lou Lewis — a charge Slater
beat — is now a free man, as revealed by The Sunday Times
two weeks ago.
He is believed to
have assumed a new identity through the WA Police’s witness
protection program after serving 15 years for the shocking
Reid reduced his
sentence after agreeing to break the bikies’ code of silence and
turn State’s evidence against Slater and White in two separate
The Slater jury did
not believe Reid and Slater was acquitted, but the White jury
did, and despite there being no overwhelming forensic evidence,
White, a close friend of Jokers’ WA founder Les Hoddy, was
convicted of the murder of small-time drug dealer Anthony Tapley.
However, there is
growing unease about White’s conviction, and following the
recent decision by Attorney-General John Quigley to refer the
Scott Austic murder conviction back to the Court of Appeal,
White’s legal team has again filed a petition to get White back
into the courts.
Even Mr Quigley,
when in Opposition, said there needed to be a “high-level
inquiry” to test Reid’s evidence to examine whether the former
bikie lied to gain special privileges.
Having met in the
early 1990s when Slater was sent to the Goldfields to open the
Kalgoorlie chapter of the Jokers, Reid and Slater got on well
after a mutual mate, Billy Grierson, brought Reid into the bikie
“Billy was a top
bloke. He was always laughing, even at his own bad jokes. Sid
was a man of few words. But I got on all right with him,” he
Fast forward to
October 2000 and on the second night of a Jokers’ “run” they set
up camp about 600m from the historic Ora Banda Inn outside of
Kalgoorlie, owned and operated by the retired former CIB boss
and legendary detective Hancock.
“I’d never heard of
Don Hancock until that night,” he says. “Didn’t know who he was.
“We had a few beers
at the pub, and then most of us went down to camp. Billy and
another bloke were watching the closing ceremony (of the Sydney
Olympics) on the television.
“One of the people
had a Sorry T-shirt on and Billy said, ‘F--- that s---’. Then
Hancock came in and kicked them out.
“Billy came back to
the camp and said, ‘The old bastard, he shut the pub on us’. We
didn’t care because we had plenty of piss.
“We were playing
some music, having some beers, bullshitting, and then about 6.15
the first bullet came through and hit the fire, into the wood. I
said to the boys, ‘Get behind the ute’.
“Other boys thought
it was the wood in the fire cracking, but I knew it wasn’t. I
said, ‘Get behind the ute out of the firing range’.
“Billy said, ‘He’s
probably just trying to scare us’, and I said, ‘Well, he’s doing
a bloody good job’. Anyway, about 15 minutes goes past and Billy
then says, ‘F--- this,’ we went back to where we were and the
next shot went straight through him (Billy).
“They never found
that bullet. It went straight through him.
“I tell you one
thing, He was a bloody good shot ... it must have been 600m away
in the dark.
“Billy said, ‘I’ve
been shot, leave me alone, I’m dying’, and I was saying, ‘No,
you’re not, you’re just winded’, but when I picked him up he was
heavy and knew then he was gone.”
Slater said he
could see a “tiny little hole in his back with a tiny little bit
“I picked up Billy
and put him in the ute (to take him to the nearby Cawes Nickel
mine nursing post), he was still alive, but then he went limp
and his weight doubled and I knew he was dead.
“We then went back
to the pub, I said to the boys, ‘Don’t upset anyone, they may
want to help’. Two women at the bar said they saw a man walking
through the bushes with a gun and I said, ‘You just tell the
coppers what you told me’, and they did.”
happened and the “piss poor” investigation into the Grierson
murder slowly went nowhere.
The lack of action
“pissed us right off — some of the coppers were even telling us
that they knew what had happened but no charges were laid — he
outfoxed them again”.
“Reid was pissed
off — we all were — but Reid was more pissed off than anyone
After Reid rolled
over and fingered Slater as his partner in the Hancock bombing
11 months later in September 2001, Slater was arrested in March
2002 by heavily armed tactical response group officers and
charged with the murders. He had an alibi.
“I was at my mum’s
place in Northam, 100 miles away, and couldn’t be in two places
at once, with my brother, sister and Mrs Wallace, and she’s a
church-going lady, but cops didn’t want to believe that. They
wanted to believe Reid.
“Reid had to give
them someone to get his reduction (in his sentence) and he knew
that. Reid wasn’t an idiot despite what people say. Cops
reckoned he wasn’t smart, but he pulled the wool over their
Slater says he does
not know if Reid did the job on Hancock by himself or with the
help of others outside the club.
So why would he
implicate you in something like that?
“Dunno. I had no
idea he was going to do it. I was in Northam when I first knew
“As soon as I found
out (that Hancock and Lewis had died) I thought, ‘I’ll be blamed
for this’, and every member of the club will be a suspect.”
He said it was then
“Cops then declared
war on us,” he said. “They even bugged Billy’s grave. Pretty
smart, really, if you’re going to open up, I suppose you’ll open
The security around
Slater was unprecedented. Police helicopters — complete with
snipers — circled the prison as Slater, in both ankle and wrist
chains, was taken daily to court via a heavily fortified prison
van with blacked-out windows.
escorted out. Different route to the court every day. Complete
overkill. I heard the whole exercise, security, lawyers, the
whole lot, cost taxpayers $22 million. Didn’t get a lot for
“Anyone would think
I was Hannibal Lecter,” Slater snorts.
“I was always
confident I would be acquitted. You could see the jury were on
my side, you know. I was relieved, no worries about that, but I
was pretty confident I would get off.”
So who helped Reid
murder Hancock and Lewis if it wasn’t you?
“Dunno, could have
been someone from outside the club. Got no idea. What I do know
is that all of his statements pointing at me, from the first one
to the last one, about six statements, changed that much and
kept getting bigger.”
Surely, you must
wonder where Reid is?
“A lot of people
ask me, but I don’t care. Not one bit. I just hope his life is a
Really, I ask him?
You don’t think some of the boys would like to get their hands
There is a long
“I’ve never heard
it spoken about. Maybe a few might think like that. He’s got to
live his life now as best he can.
“We need him alive,
because if Gary White has any chance of getting a retrial, we
need Reid alive so he can take the stand and tell the truth for
once in his life.
“We had him on the
stand for four days in my trial. I got off, and Whitey, who had
him in the stand for four hours, went down. Cops portrayed Reid
as a hard-working man who was an angel until he joined the
Jokers then turned to crime.”
So where would you
think Reid might be?
“I’ll tell you one
thing, he won’t be working. He’s bone lazy. But as a club, we
need to keep him alive to get Whitey clear.”
So are the Jokers
looking for him?
“Not that I know
of,” he says, not that convincingly.
He’s says he
determined to get Reid back into the stand. How, he is either
not saying or does not know.
“If Reid dies, then
Whitey dies, only he will die in jail, and that’s wrong.”
towards his old mate bubbles away just under the surface.
But he says it
doesn’t consume him. At 52, he jokes that he’s starting to think
“One day I might
write a children’s book and call it Snot the Dog.”