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Ngo set up by NSW police, inquiry told

Amy Coopes

October 30, 2008 SMH




Convicted murderer Phuong Ngo was set up by police who "channelled" their evidence to pin John Newman's murder on him, claims one of his staunchest advocates at an inquiry into his conviction.

Ngo is 10 years into a life sentence for the assassination of NSW Labor MP John Newman, who was gunned down outside his south-western Sydney home in September 1994. Retired District Court judge David Patten is reviewing Ngo's conviction, after a number of Ngo's supporters came forward with serious questions about the evidence at his Supreme Court trial.

Ngo's close friend Marion Le took the stand on Thursday, telling Mr Patten police "channelled" their evidence against the former Fairfield councillor. Ms Le, a migration agent, claims the investigating taskforce ignored evidence which undermined their pursuit of Ngo, including the confession of another man to the crime.


Albert Ranse, also a Fairfield councillor, allegedly told Ms Le he shot Mr Newman as revenge for the MP's role in having his son's sentence for a drug-related bag snatching almost doubled.

In an interview read to the hearing, Ms Le told Nick Kaldas, now deputy NSW police commissioner, that Mr Ranse told her he alone shot Mr Newman. Pulling up behind the MP's car, Mr Ranse said, he fired twice at Mr Newman, watching as he "spun around and I got him again". "I hated that bastard," Mr Ranse is alleged to have said. "He deserved to die. I don't have any regrets.


"He put my son away for a long time. I told him I would kill him and I killed him." Ms Le said Mr Ranse vowed never to repeat his confession, and told her it would be "your word against mine and they're not going to believe you".

Andrew Colefax SC, counsel assisting the inquiry, grilled Ms Le, accusing her of making "spiteful" claims about Mr Newman's de facto wife Lucy Wang. Despite being with the MP for just eight months, Ms Le said Ms Wang "managed to persuade the Supreme Court she was entitled to his entire estate".

She also said many members of the Chinese community at the time of the murder considered Ms Wang a suspect and she was called as a person of interest to the inquest into Mr Newman's death.


"Why did you find it necessary to drag Ms Wang's reputation through the mud?" asked Mr Colefax. Ms Le denied she had done so, saying she was simply stating known facts and "resented" the accusation. "No doubt so does Ms Wang," Mr Colefax retorted. He also accused Ms Le of implying police had, from the outset, tried to let Mr Ranse "off the hook" and "fraudulently mounted" a case against Ngo. Ms Le said she felt the police interview of Mr Ranse was "purely perfunctory" and detectives ignored him as a suspect because it did not fit their agenda.


"What was in it for the police to mount a fraudulent case against Mr Ngo at the expense of catching the real wrongdoer?" Mr Colefax asked.

Ms Le said Mr Kaldas told her at the inquest that there were "so many suspects ... we just looked at the number of mentions that there were about Phuong Ngo and we channelled the evidence towards him".

Ms Le agreed she would do everything in her power to help Ngo defend himself and said she had no doubt he was innocent.



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