My Underbelly the second

The next few years in the late 80’s saw us have to babysit a parade of undesirables.  If they were given protection because they were informing on other crooks it was something we could stomach but in several cases we were required to look after people involved in the murders of policemen.

In 1986 whilst I was still with the PSG [Protective Security Groups] a bomb went off in Russell Street outside the major city police station.  At the time we had no idea whether it was terrorist related but it certainly seemed to be aimed at the police force.  The bomb was in a car that was parked outside the main police communications centre.

It was timed to go off at lunch time and on almost any day of the week the street was crowded with police, the public and lawyers milling around outside the Melbourne Magistrates Court which was across the road.   This day, however, was Easter Thursday and the courts had been in wind down mode for the Easter Holidays so there were only a couple of people in the vicinity of the bomb as it went off.  One of those was Angela Taylor, a young police constable who had her clothes blown off with the force of the blast and who survived, her skin blackened and falling off, only to pass away in hospital around a month later.

Our office was around 150 meters from the blast but that day I was away on holidays and driving with my family down to Lakes Entrance in eastern Victoria.  My sister Deb was on duty that day and she was sitting in an office on the first floor of the building when the bomb went off blowing her off her seat and sowering her with glass.  I heard the news on the radio that a policewoman was seriously injured and it wasn’t until late that night that I was able to find out that it wasn’t my sister.

It turned out not to be terrorism, it was conducted by a group of crooks whose aim was to disrupt police communications so that they could commit some armed robberies in the northern suburbs.

The investigating police eventually were able to make some connections to the perpetrators based on forensic evidence from the remains of the car but in the end it was evidence given by Paul Hetzel that helped to put them away.

Hetzel lived for years in the witness protection program and we looked after him for the time in the lead up to the trial.   This was different to the Tizzone job.   This time a police woman had been murdered, a colleague and it could have been anyone of us.

We moved around a lot.  In one suburban safe house on a few acres of land there was a large shed at the rear of the property.  I remember one of the guys, nicknamed “Vegie” cobbled together bits and pieces of junk and came up with something resembling a machine gun which he mounted on a tripod aimed at the back of the house the witness was in.  It didn’t last long because the braid at the time took a grim view of it and the witness nearly shat himself one morning when he stuck his head out the back door.

Before I move on a little more about Vegie who thought he was called that because as a red head he had a carrot top.  Truth is it had more to do with some of the things he said that earnt him the name.  One day we were driving along a country road when he said, “There’s a lot of those new breed of horses around.”

We bit and asked him what he was talking and he said the Caution Horse breed.  Then he explained that he’d seen a sign on the back of every horse float we’d passed “Caution Horses.”

We also moved at one time down to a diary farm near Koo Wee Rup.  As with some of the other places we stayed at, the witness got the house and we had to make use of the sheds on the properties.   Another colleague who I shall call TT was a horrible snorer and as such he was put on permanent night shift so that the rest of us could get more sleep. 

Now we weren’t the only occupants of these sheds and on this farm our constant companions were Huntsman spiders.

One day one of the guys came rushing into the shed and said “Quick, come and have a look at this.”

So we all followed him quietly into the shed where TT was blissfully and loudly snoring.   On his face, moving up and down to the rhythym of his snoring was one of the largest huntsman I have ever seen.   Did we wake him I can hear you ask? 

Nope, we stifled our laughter and backed out thinking that finally he had found something that enjoyed his snoring.

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Huntsman

The last post reminded me of another occasion from my previous life as a policeman. For a number of years I worked in the Witness Protection area of the police force and back in those days [I stress that it is no longer the case] we held the witnesses on isolated rural properties.

Most of these places had a single residence but were chosen to have several outbuildings where we coppers could live, eat and sleep, whilst we were locked up with the witness usually for a week at a time. You learn a lot about the blokes you work with in these circumstances. The hours are long and boring, there is no such thing as time off, there was often times that you had to respond to incidents even when you were technically stood down.

There was little to do except play cards, watch videos, or maybe play table tennis, when you weren’t sitting at a guard post or manning the radio. There were of course some people that absolutely rubbed you the wrong way, either because they went missing when things like cooking or dish washing needed to be done, or simply because they weren’t the type of person you would normally have wanted to spend time with.

I remember being woken by a shotgun blast one night which got us all scrambling for our weapons and falling out of bed responding to what we thought was an attack only to find that one of our colleagues had fallen asleep at his post with his finger inside the trigger and as he jerked forward he put a round through the roof of the verandah he was sitting on. Needless to say, he didn’t do another of these operations for a long time.

There was one guy that we insisted was put on permanent night shift, not because he wasn’t a good guy to have around, just that his snoring was the worst any of us had ever heard and given we were all sleeping, dormitory style in a shed, he was guaranteed to ensure that no one would get any sleep.

The sheds we were in were pretty spartan – concrete floor, tin walls and roof – freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in summer, and totally lacking any privacy. They also were not by any stretch of the imagination “critter proof”. Now we have some pretty big spiders over here and one of the most common is the huntsman. Everything I’ve read says that they can get up to 15 centimeters across, but I can tell you that I’ve seen some that have been closer to 25-30cm in my own backyard. And this particular shed was full of them.

One day, when our loudly snoring colleague was in bed sleeping, another of the guys came and got us and said “Come and have a look at this.”

We all crept into the shed and there he was the snorer, flat on his back, a large huntsman on his face, rising and falling slowly as he breathed in and out. What do you think we did?

The answer is in the comments 🙂

Huntsman

The last post reminded me of another occasion from my previous life as a policeman. For a number of years I worked in the Witness Protection area of the police force and back in those days [I stress that it is no longer the case] we held the witnesses on isolated rural properties.

Most of these places had a single residence but were chosen to have several outbuildings where we coppers could live, eat and sleep, whilst we were locked up with the witness usually for a week at a time. You learn a lot about the blokes you work with in these circumstances. The hours are long and boring, there is no such thing as time off, there was often times that you had to respond to incidents even when you were technically stood down.

There was little to do except play cards, watch videos, or maybe play table tennis, when you weren’t sitting at a guard post or manning the radio. There were of course some people that absolutely rubbed you the wrong way, either because they went missing when things like cooking or dish washing needed to be done, or simply because they weren’t the type of person you would normally have wanted to spend time with.

I remember being woken by a shotgun blast one night which got us all scrambling for our weapons and falling out of bed responding to what we thought was an attack only to find that one of our colleagues had fallen asleep at his post with his finger inside the trigger and as he jerked forward he put a round through the roof of the verandah he was sitting on. Needless to say, he didn’t do another of these operations for a long time.

There was one guy that we insisted was put on permanent night shift, not because he wasn’t a good guy to have around, just that his snoring was the worst any of us had ever heard and given we were all sleeping, dormitory style in a shed, he was guaranteed to ensure that no one would get any sleep.

The sheds we were in were pretty spartan – concrete floor, tin walls and roof – freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in summer, and totally lacking any privacy. They also were not by any stretch of the imagination “critter proof”. Now we have some pretty big spiders over here and one of the most common is the huntsman. Everything I’ve read says that they can get up to 15 centimeters across, but I can tell you that I’ve seen some that have been closer to 25-30cm in my own backyard. And this particular shed was full of them.

One day, when our loudly snoring colleague was in bed sleeping, another of the guys came and got us and said “Come and have a look at this.”

We all crept into the shed and there he was the snorer, flat on his back, a large huntsman on his face, rising and falling slowly as he breathed in and out. What do you think we did?

The answer is in the comments 🙂

Huntsman

The last post reminded me of another occasion from my previous life as a policeman. For a number of years I worked in the Witness Protection area of the police force and back in those days [I stress that it is no longer the case] we held the witnesses on isolated rural properties.

Most of these places had a single residence but were chosen to have several outbuildings where we coppers could live, eat and sleep, whilst we were locked up with the witness usually for a week at a time. You learn a lot about the blokes you work with in these circumstances. The hours are long and boring, there is no such thing as time off, there was often times that you had to respond to incidents even when you were technically stood down.

There was little to do except play cards, watch videos, or maybe play table tennis, when you weren’t sitting at a guard post or manning the radio. There were of course some people that absolutely rubbed you the wrong way, either because they went missing when things like cooking or dish washing needed to be done, or simply because they weren’t the type of person you would normally have wanted to spend time with.

I remember being woken by a shotgun blast one night which got us all scrambling for our weapons and falling out of bed responding to what we thought was an attack only to find that one of our colleagues had fallen asleep at his post with his finger inside the trigger and as he jerked forward he put a round through the roof of the verandah he was sitting on. Needless to say, he didn’t do another of these operations for a long time.

There was one guy that we insisted was put on permanent night shift, not because he wasn’t a good guy to have around, just that his snoring was the worst any of us had ever heard and given we were all sleeping, dormitory style in a shed, he was guaranteed to ensure that no one would get any sleep.

The sheds we were in were pretty spartan – concrete floor, tin walls and roof – freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in summer, and totally lacking any privacy. They also were not by any stretch of the imagination “critter proof”. Now we have some pretty big spiders over here and one of the most common is the huntsman. Everything I’ve read says that they can get up to 15 centimeters across, but I can tell you that I’ve seen some that have been closer to 25-30cm in my own backyard. And this particular shed was full of them.

One day, when our loudly snoring colleague was in bed sleeping, another of the guys came and got us and said “Come and have a look at this.”

We all crept into the shed and there he was the snorer, flat on his back, a large huntsman on his face, rising and falling slowly as he breathed in and out. What do you think we did?

The answer is in the comments 🙂