Lying in her hospital bed, robbed of the ability to speak, Nicola Gobbo waited.
- Ms Gobbo said being a lawyer and an informant made her feel important and “valued”
- Criminals such as Tony Mokbel, but not the police officers she was helping, turned up to her hospital bed when she had a stroke, she said
- She admitted the pressure eventually became too much and she thought about dangerous ways she could remove herself from the situation
A day earlier, she’d had a stroke. Her prized ability to reason and argue was taking some time to come back. So instead, she texted.
But before long, her reverie was interrupted. She had visitors.
“Every criminal in Melbourne came, yes, including Tony,” she today told the Lawyer X Royal Commission.
By Tony, she meant convicted drug lord Tony Mokbel.
She calls many of the major players of Melbourne’s bloody underworld war by their first names because, at one point, she craved their approval.
But the presence of Melbourne’s criminal element by her sickbed only made Ms Gobbo more cognisant of who had not shown up — members from Victoria’s police force, who she had helped for years.
On her third day giving evidence before the Lawyer X royal commission, Ms Gobbo, speaking with the clarity of someone who has had time for brutal self-reflection, explained how she brought the Victorian justice system to its knees.
And it had to do with the most basic of human desires.
“Looking back, I wanted to belong, I wanted to be the holder of every bit of information about every drug trafficker up and down the supply chain,” she said.
“As pathetic as it is for me to admit, I did derive some self-importance and some feeling that I was relevant or validated, by reason of being wanted by people like Tony.
“I guess to be wanted or to be valued.”
And she was. The Mokbel cartel considered her part of their crew, going so far as to threaten her after representing someone from the other side.
Gangland police handlers also inflated her ego.
“It was this kind of ongoing joke about well, you know, ‘You’re top of the ladder now, best informer ever, no one will ever beat you,'” she recalled.
“I mean, look, in hindsight, it was to obviously boost my self-esteem and to make me feel more important about what I was doing and, you know, my type-A personality was making me do more and more.”
But the sheer pressure of being a double agent left her desperate for a way out.
Even though she was representing Tony Mokbel at the time, Ms Gobbo told the Royal Commission that her desires, and Victoria Police’s desires, soon overlapped.
She wanted the Mokbels arrested, charged and jailed.
“You wanted to have Mokbel and his family put away for as long as possible,” asked counsel-assisting Chris Winneke QC.
“I wanted all of them out of my life,” Ms Gobbo said.
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But soon, she felt the wall against her back and hopelessness set in.
“I wanted a tram to hit me on the way to court that morning because I could not work out how to not disappoint anyone, or how to not let anyone down and how to get out of that mess without, or probably in a way that meant I didn’t have to stand up to anyone,” she said.
The royal commission continues.