The Big Issue : Edition 447
PHOTOGRAPHSBYJAMESBRAUND;HAIRANDMAKEUPBYREBECCAVAUGHAN 12 THEBIGISSUE6–25DEC2013 » Mic Looby (@MicLooby) is a writer, editor and cyclist. He is also leaving us. This is his last column. After almost seven years he has nothing more to say. Thanks, Mic! LOOBY NICKED IN NEWS JUST in, a northern suburbs man accused of masterminding an international crime ring has been jailed for one year. The court heard that the heavily bearded man, known only as ‘Fat Nick’, or ‘Mr Xmas’, is the head of a highly secretive outfit operating under the guise of an unregistered children’s charity, with links to a number of religious organisations. Little else is known about ‘Fat Nick’, though sources say he has held a number of regular part-time positions in department stores and shopping centres, and that on each occasion he was given the sack. Dressed in a heavy suit, the accused sweated profusely in the dock as a police prosecutor detailed a long and colourful history of alleged misdeeds, ranging from numerous speeding, parking and drink-driving violations to charges relating to cruelty to animals – rumoured to be at least eight exotic livestock – and offences involving a large-scale “sweatshop” operation. Further charges were laid after a raid on the man’s secluded property in the outer north, where police seized an unregistered, apparently homemade, light aircraft, allegedly used to make annual “drops” of contraband to contacts all over the world, under cover of darkness. In doing so, the man breached “virtually every civil aviation regulation and international law in existence,” the court heard. On the evening of 24 December, according to police, a surveillance team observed the man and his small group of accomplices loading boxes of electronic equipment and firearms from a workshop onto the aircraft. The man then climbed aboard, shouted a series of coded instructions, and launched the heavily laden aircraft into the night sky. This was one of many regular clandestine forays into foreign air space. On the same night, a man fitting the exact description of the accused was reportedly seen breaking into houses in multiple locations, the court heard. Asked by the prosecuting lawyer about the exact nature of the cargo aboard the aircraft on the evening of 24 December, the man replied: “They were just toys.” “Asked by the prosecution if he considered himself to be above the law, the accused replied, ‘Only when I’m flying over a police station... Ho, ho, ho.’” The prosecution replied: “By which you mean they were not the high-powered weapons that you might normally carry?” “By which I mean they were just toys,” he said. Asked if an inventory of these “toys” existed, the accused nodded, saying “I’m always making lists and checking them twice.” An aviation expert said the man’s aircraft was fitted with no safety equipment except for a single red light: “This fellow has been flying under the radar, quite literally, for years... How an elderly, unlicensed, untrained pilot could flout the most basic of air safety regulations time and again without tragic consequences beggars belief.” Asked by the prosecution if he considered himself to be above the law, the accused replied, “Only when I’m flying over a police station.” He then clutched his stomach and said, “Ho, ho, ho.” The accused, representing himself, pleaded not guilty to all charges, claiming in his defence that he prided himself on “knowing the difference between naughty and nice”. In sentencing, the judge described the man as ‘‘a seasoned criminal whose questionable gifts have caused widespread community concern over many years’’. Once more, the man said, “Ho, ho, ho”, which made his stomach shake like a bowlful of jelly. Asked if he had anything further to add, the accused replied: “I know which judge won’t be getting that extra-large naughty schoolboy costume he ordered, or that rubber thing with–” The judge ordered the accused to remain silent, then sentenced him to 12 months’ jail. Outside the court, Archbishop George Pell told reporters the man in the heavy suit should have been jailed long ago. “It’s people like him who give the church a bad name,” he said. The man will be eligible for parole in December next year, pending good behaviour.