The man who shot Don Mackay

Almost 40 years ago I was editor of The Murrumbidgee Irrigator newspaper at Leeton, and I was the conduit for information obtained by the late Don Mackay which I fed to the day editor of The Daily Telegraph, Harry Sherring, in respect of matters related to the activities of certain criminal elements in Griffith, specifically the Calabrian Mafia and some of their interesting agricultural activities.

Today, I received a copy of the April 9 The Area News with a story related to the Mackay assassination which quotes a certain Dr John Jiggens.

Firstly, let me say I have never met Dr Jiggens. However, I know he has written material on both the Griffith Mafia and the Mackay assassination which I know to be extremely accurate. In fact, so accurate has been his accounts that for a long time, many of us closely connected with the Mackay case believed Dr John Jiggens to be a pseudonym for a policeman who had inside knowledge of the case, while in turn, the police believed I was the mystery Dr Jiggens.

It emerged some time ago that Dr John Jiggens was no pseudonym, and that he was a Queensland academic who had developed certain well-placed contacts.

The case he presents is that a former corrupt policeman named Fred Krahe was responsible for the murder of Don Mackay, and that the order was given by Frank Nugan. He also argues that two people had to have carried out the murder.

The presence of Fred Krahe in Griffith and his association with Ken and Frank Nugan has been well documented over the years.

The then manager of The Area News, June Webster, had a high-level contact within the New South Wales Police Force to whom she directed inquiries as to the identity and background of Fred Krahe.

I am aware she was told by police that they believed Krahe to have been a prolific contract killer who had murdered a number of people.

Don Mackay was shot on a Friday evening. On the morning before (ie: The Thursday) I took the artwork for The Irrigator to The Area News where it was printed. June Webster called me into her office and told me she had received a tip off that Fred Krahe was at the Nugan packing shed.

The following morning, I spoke to Don Mackay, and he wondered what Krahe was doing in Griffith on this occasion. That night, Don Mackay was murdered in the Griffith Hotel car park.

In the mid-1980s, I was contacted by Tom Prior, a crime reporter from Melbourne’s The Herald Sun, and he in turn published my account of June Webster telling me of Fred Krahe being in Griffith the day before the murder and my conversation with Mackay on the morning of the murder, so this is not something new.

I cannot say for certain that Krahe was at the packing shed. I can only say that someone who June trusted phoned her and said Krahe was there.

There are two factors known only to a handful of people close to the Mackay case.

1. Mackay had uncovered a link between very senior intelligence and military figures in the United States and Frank Nugan, and these links had connections to the growing of cannabis and the sale of such cannabis to fund certain US activities in Third World countries.

2. I know the links existed, but Dr Jiggens has more extensive knowledge of the people and the events involved.

The second factor was that the then acting president of the NSW Liberal Party was V.W. (Bill) Letheren of Leeton. In 1974, Bill was primarily responsible for the election to the Federal Parliament of an outstanding protégé, a certain John Winston Howard.

Don Mackay had demonstrated as a Liberal candidate for the State seat of Murrumbidgee and Federal seat of Riverina, that he would have been an outstanding MP, and as a result, he was offered a Senate seat by the Liberals. Don Mackay in the Senate, where he could speak under Parliamentary privilege, would be a massive problem for the Mafia, as was his friendship with John Howard.

Dr Jiggens would argue that Don Mackay was killed for three primary reasons.

  1. Because he blew the whistle on a 33-acre cannabis farm at Coleambally which was raided in November 1975.
  2. Because he knew of the links between Frank Nugan and others.
  3. Because of the political influence he would have as a Senator.

And as always, Dr Jiggens would be dead accurate, because those close to the case know those to be the three reasons the murder assassination order was given.

James Frederick Bazley was convicted of the Mackay murder. No-one close to the case believes for a minute that a small man such as Bazley was capable of lifting Don Mackay into the boot of a motor car. At least one other person had to be present. It was believed at the time that Krahe was one and another former police officer was the other.

Whether it was actually two corrupt former policeman or Bazley and Krahe remains a matter of opinion.

Don Mackay has been wrongly labelled as an anti-drugs campaigner. He was never that. Instead, he fought against the Calabrian Mafia and its influence in Griffith. No town ever had a more outstanding citizen.

John Higgins

(John Higgins was editor of The Murrumbidgee Irrigator from 1972-77. He later became president of the Victorian Country Press Association at the same time as his friend from Griffith, John Kelly, then manager of The Area News, was president of the New South Wales Country Press Association. Both served together on the board of Country Press Australia).

One thought on “The man who shot Don Mackay

  1. Open Sores ... says:

    [Publishers Note: Well known peace activist, Graeme Dunstan had this to say in response to revelations that Michael Hand, one of the founders of CIA linked Nugan-Hand bank, has been found in Idaho in the USA. The article from the Byron Bay Echo, Fugitive with Ocean Shores links tracked down, is posted below Graeme Dunstan’s comments.]


    And the story goes on.

    The wonderful innovation wrought by the Nugan-Hand Bank was that it was able to provide a direct and unaccountable link for corrupt government officials to launder their corrupt earnings through privately owned banks into investment schemes.

    Nugan-Hand was handling dirty CIA funds from its dealings in heroin and cannabis trade in IndoChina during the US war on Vietnam.

    Dr John Jiggins research about the assassination of Liberal candidate Donald MacKay MLA by NSW Police officers in 1977 explains how this was meant silence his revelations about the industrial scale production of cannabis in the Griffith area. The industry had been set up to supply the Vietnam war market and it was financed by the Nugan Hand Bank.

    Nugan-Hand went belly up when its illicit drug dealings went sour. But it’s game had been lucrative.

    Exit Nugan Hand Bank. Enter the Macquarie Bank.

    Hands up who knows who made the big money out of transferring public assets such as Mascot airport to private hands?

    So whenever you think of the folksy history of Ocean Shores and corrupt land developers, call to mind the intrinsic corruption of the Macquarie Bank and the systemic corruption of the NSW ALP

    Graeme Dunstan


    Fugitive with Ocean Shores links tracked down

    One of Australia’s most wanted fugitives behind the notorious merchant bank Nugan Hand who kicked off his career in Australia by selling blocks of land at Ocean Shores has been tracked down in the US after 35 years on the run.

    Michael Hand disappeared after the collapse of the bank in 1980 and soon after his partner, Griffith-born lawyer Frank Nugan, was found dead beside a rifle in his Mercedes-Benz outside Lithgow which a coroner had ruled as suicide.

    Michael Hand was tracked down outside a chemist in a US town. Image: 60 Minutes, through Daily Mail Australia

    It came as corporate and police investigators, ASIO and the FBI started investigating the Nugan Hand bank and the involvement of the ex Special Forces soldier.

    The Daily Mail and Fairfax Media have just published excerpts of new book by Sydney author Peter Butt called Merchants of Menace revealing that Hand, 73, has been living under the name Michael Jon Fuller and resides in the small town of Idaho Falls.

    Butt tipped off the 60 Minutes program (US) and reporters approached a man they claimed was Hand outside a chemist recently but he refused to comment.

    Hand moved to Australia in September, 1967 and was soon working at selling development lots along the Australian coast.

    According to the US-based Education Forum website, the company, Ocean Shores Development, was run by lawyer Fred Miller, a senior executive for the shipping empire owned by Sir Peter Abeles and longtime business partner, Rupert Murdoch.

    Popular US singer Pat Boone was one of the largest investors in the scheme. The webiste says the registered directors included Boone, of Beverly Hills, California and Patricia Swan of Sydney, Australia. Swan was Frank Nugan’s secretary.

    According to APN Media, construction of Ocean Shores development stalled a few years after the estate ‘officially opened’ in 1969, then in the early 1980s, another development company which had taken over the estate sold it on the Bond Corporation, owned by the infamous Alan Bond.

    The second stage eventually went ahead, but the third stage was blocked after a campaign by environmentalists succeeded in preserving the northern part of the development land as the Billinudgel Nature Reserve.

    Promised infrastructure for the new suburb in Byron shire including sportsfields, a district commercial centre, a marina and schools and a hospital never went ahead.

    The Nugan Hand bank collapsed with debts in excess of $50 million and a subsequent royal commission found evidence of money-laundering, illegal tax avoidance schemes and widespread violations of banking laws.

    Hand co-founded the Sydney-based international merchant bank but vanished amid rumours of CIA and organised crime involvement in the bank.

    According to the new book, he now manufactures tactical weapons for US Special Forces, special operations groups and hunters.

    Byron Bay Echo

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