It’s amazing how the public’s insatiable appetite for true crime continues to spawn tired and aged trivia masquerading as news.

Billed somewhat hysterically as: “An explosive, major investigation”,  Channel Seven’s Sunday Night program this week aired a segment featuring a discredited cop, a discredited lawyer and an even more discredited gangster’s moll — all repeating the same old stories they’ve been boring us with for years.

The segment revolved around the tragic events of October 12, 1988, when two young police officers were gunned down in a cold-blooded assassination in Walsh Street, South Yarra, Melbourne.

Wendy Peirce, the gangster’s moll, trotted out the tired version of events involving her husband, underworld figure Victor Peirce, she’s been rehashing, denying, and rehashing again, virtually since the night constables Steven Tynan and Damian Eyre were murdered.

The discredited cop, former drugs squad detective Malcolm Rosenes, (jailed for drug offences) meanwhile, regaled us with the very elderly revelation that rogue police murdered career criminal Graeme Jensen, and then planted a gun on him so they could claim they shot him in self defence.

(Jensen’s slaying is generally believed to have been the catalyst for the assassination of constables Tynan, 22, and Eyre, 20, in Walsh Street.)

Only problem with Rosenes’ story is … it ain’t news.  The entire underworld, and most of Melbourne’s true crime fans, have long been aware of this.

Rosenes told the same story to discredited lawyer Andrew Fraser (also jailed for drug offences) more than a year ago, and Fraser rehashed it in his latest book Snouts in the Trough, published last year …

It may well be an “explosive” story, but pretending it results from a “major investigation” is stretching credibility, even for Channel Seven.

As the underworld and its enthusiastic followers know, the late 1980s was a period when Melbourne’s armed robbery squad was a law unto itself, acting as judge, jury and even executioner over the villains they were policing.

Jensen was one of these villains, and a close friend of Victor Peirce.

Victor and his associates were responsible for a series of highly lucrative bank jobs, and were under surveillance from  the armed robbery squad and the “Squirrels”, Malcolm Rosenes’ surveillance unit.

But as was often the case in those dark days, Victoria Police’s right hand was often sadly unaware of what its left hand was up to.

On October 11, 1988, Rosenes and his squirrels had Jensen in their sights when he went shopping in the outer Melbourne suburb of Narre Warren for a part for his mower.  (Even career criminals cut their lawns.)

The squirrels followed Jensen in his blue Holden station wagon to a local shopping strip, watched him enter a store and return to his car.

And then, “out of the blue”, as Rosenes described it, cars appeared fishtailing across the car park in hot pursuit of Jensen’s vehicle.

Seven or eight shots rang out, the squirrels ducked for cover, and when the dust settled Jensen was slumped dead across his steering wheel.

At this point, as Rosenes told Fraser for his book, an armed robbery squad officer approached Jensen’s car carrying a towel wrapped around a sawn-off shot gun, which he dropped through the window beside Jensen’s body.

And this was the essence of Sunday Night’s “explosive, major investigation” — only reporter Ross Coulthart omitted to mention it had all appeared in print a year earlier.

The remainder of the segment dealt largely with film of Wendy Peirce telling police her husband Victor had masterminded the retribution murders of Tynan and Eyre.

Again this was hardly news. Wendy later denied this version of events, causing the collapse of the police case against Victor and three other men charged with the murder of the two officers.

After Victor was murdered during Melbourne’s gangland wars, Wendy reverted to her original story. But by then was anybody (apart from Sunday Night) really paying attention to her …?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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