SST journalist Jonathan Marshall keeps delivering the goods. Today’s victim is Chris Comeskey and I just bet he is on the run tonight.
The main part of the article is about his dodgy dealing with legal aid, but the second half outlines a little bit of history and some revelations that my contacts tell me have quite possibly put Chris Comeskey on a list.
DESPITE THE fact his role in returning the war medals catapaulted Comeskey on to centre stage, many close to him believe it was the worst thing that happened to him. “The fact of the matter is he accomplished what no one else could, and that was getting those medals back,” says a friend. “Instead he was pilloried.”
The public welcomed the safe return of the national treasures but bristled at the fact it was achieved by paying the culprits a $200,000 reward.
Comeskey’s role in the negotiations cast him in an unfavourable light to many, highlighting his extensive underworld connections and unsavoury contacts, raising a question mark for some over his integrity.
The lawyer made no secret of his displeasure at being uninvited from the official ceremony marking the return of the medals. But he has been less transparent about what benefits, if any, he stood to gain.
The official amount is $200,000, but my understanding from my sources is Comeskey only coughed a hundy to the gang connections and told them that the media reports were wrong. Now Jonathan Marshal has documents to show that Comeskey cut a deal for $200,000 for the crims and $15,000 for himself.
In February 2008, he dismissed an on-air suggestion by Close Up host Mark Sainsbury that he should have got a slice of the reward money, saying: “I would not have wanted to benefit from it. In fact, if there wasn’t a reward, I would have been quite happy to fund the return of the medals myself.”
The Sunday Star-Times has obtained a two-page contract between Comeskey and Police Commissioner Howard Broad that shows the lawyer was to be paid a fee for his services up to $15,000 for returning the medals, something that came as a surprise to Hirschfeld. “I had no idea of that at all. He never gave the impression he benefited financially.”
Whoopsy, caught lying. Strike one, lied about his fee. Does that mean he lied about how much the Commissioner coughed too?
On TV3 that same evening, Comeskey had told John Campbell: “I never once asked for immunity, I didn’t want to place the police in that position…I made it plain to the people I was dealing with that I could not advise them on how to avoid or escape detection.”
But official documents quote Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Bensemann, the officer in charge of the case, saying Comeskey “suggested various possibilities in exchange for the return of the medals, including immunity from prosecution and ceasing the investigation”.
Whoopsy, caught lying again. Strike two, lied about the immunity, perhaps he lied about the amount as well?
My sources in the crime world tell me that Comeskey might well find himself on a list he really would rather not be on. Stiffing gang members of their rewards isn’t the smartest thing in the world to do, even if you are their lawyer. The police don’t take kindly to fraud and the gangs even less so.