The giveaway, at least for anyone who knew her back in those days, were the notes in red pen and numerous sticky notes.
- Nicola Gobbo said she did not obtain financial advantage or obtain money by deception
- She said she thought the police would stop her if what she was doing “was wrong”
- Ms Gobbo will return to the witness box next Tuesday
It was how police knew Nicola Gobbo’s hands had been on a witness statement. It was how she used to do things.
But on her fourth day before the Lawyer X royal commission, Ms Gobbo conceded that it was ethically wrong to do so.
She stopped short, however, of accepting she was not entitled to the fees she charged those she informed against, including $60,000 from a single client. After all, she said, she still did the work, even while betraying her clients.
But on the question of whether it was legal, she was less certain. In fact, it was something she never contemplated.
The charging of clients was a key feature of the royal commission on Friday.
“Did you consider that in doing so you’d obtain financial advantage or obtain money by deception,” counsel assisting Chris Winneke QC asked, referring to the name of the crime under Victorian law.
“No,” Ms Gobbo said.
“This also was a topic that was discussed with Victoria Police and obviously wrongly, but I was led to believe that they were the police and anything that I was doing that was wrong, they would stop me.”
But they didn’t and Ms Gobbo, feeling the weight of inertia and lacking a way out, simply continued. As time passed, her unease grew.
The mother-of-two spent Friday justifying herself and her actions to a public that has been assaulted by an extensive list of her wrongdoings.
She told the inquiry she felt “overwhelmingly guilty” about what she was doing and had felt “trapped”.
“I’m not saying what I did was right at all, but I was kind of inducted into this netherworld of police, made to feel very important and, sure, I argued the ethics and other issues with them as time went on, but I saw no ending to it,” she said.
“I was told that, as far as the police were concerned, it was all fine, it was all okay.”
But perhaps even police were not confident that everything was aboveboard.
Ms Gobbo said that at one point, her handlers contacted her in a panic.
“[They] said to me that they had to come and collect the phone that I was using to speak to them on, and that if I was arrested or the federal police came near me, to not say anything about them.”
Ms Gobbo will return to the witness box next Tuesday.