Fitzgerald-era house in Bowen Hills to make way for townhouses

first_imgVittoria (Vic) Conte (left) and Geraldo (Gerry) Bellino at the Fitzgerald inquiry in 1987 Courier-Mail journalist Matt Condon, who wrote several books on the state’s darkest decade, said Herbert and his wife Peggy had been shopping for a suitable “retirement” home when a friend alerted then to the sale of 29 Jordan Terrace.“Herbert would later write in his memoir, The Bagman, that at the time Bellino and Conte owed him about $20,000,” Condon said. “Herbert said he did a deal with the two men, whereby he would give them $100,000 on the contract and $40,000 on the side. The deal was struck.”Friends of Herbert claimed that Jordan Terrace became the centre of illegal operations, and a place to cut deals with corrupt police, politicians and criminals.“Regular visitors included former Queensland police commissioner Sir Terence Lewis, later jailed for corruption, and a host of crooked cops including former assistant commissioner Tony Murphy. Another regular guest was jailed government minister Don “Shady” Lane,” Condon said. A hole in the wall was used to stash cash.Developer John Biggs, one half of Esaah Developments with TruForm director Dan Boucher, said he had no idea about the history of the house until after he purchased it in October 2015.“The previous owners showed us the hole in the wall, and told us that the house had a dark history,” he said.“But it was only when we searched the titles register that we really understood how dark that history was.”Property records showed that the house had been registered in the names of Vittorio “Vic” Conte and Geraldo Bellino on April 17, 1985 — two years before then acting premier Bill Gunn ordered a commission of inquiry in to systemic police corruption involving illegal gambling and prostitution.Conte and Bellino were partners in illegal casinos and massage parlours, and were later jailed for official corruption. Both men were found guilty of paying bribes to crooked cops who turned a blind eye to their organised crimes. 29 Jordan Terrace, Bowen Hills, has links to Queensland’s ‘dark decade’.A CRUDE hole in the wall is one of the only remaining signs of the seedy history behind this art deco house in the heart of Bowen Hills — a key location examined during the infamous Fitzgerald inquiry.Used to hide wads of cash, the earnings of an illegal trade in sex and misfortune, the hole remains unfilled, a dark chasm that once held a secret safe. The 1942-built character house at 29 Jordan Terrace will soon be demolished to make way for a boutique townhouse development called The Jordan Residences. An artist’s impression of The Jordan Residencescenter_img A balcony view from 29 Jordan Terrace, Bowen HillsIt was a party house, but the party ended when that property transaction was uncovered by the media. “That singular piece of evidence — the first linking the underworld with corrupt Queensland police — would prove to be the match that lit the Fitzgerald royal commission, which in turn brought down generations of endemic police and political corruption,” Condon said.“It was 29 Jordan Terrace — the house shaped like a piano — that changed Queensland history.”And that history will not be forgotten, despite its modern makeover.Artefacts including tiles, balustrade and brickwork from the original house will be salvaged and incorporated in the new homes.As for the hole in the wall, Mr Biggs said that would be excavated and saved.“The house is part of the Newstead heritage trail. If I have my way it (the section of wall with the hole) will become a letterbox with a plaque outlining its history,” he said. The internal staircase at 29 Jordan TerraceBut the link that brought the whole racket, known as The Joke, undone was the one registered on February 28, 1986.It was then that the house passed from Bellino and Conte to Jack and Margaret ‘Peggy’ Herbert.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus21 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market21 hours agoJack “The Bagman” Herbert was a former Queensland Licensing Branch officer and the mastermind behind The Joke, a scheme whereby criminals distributed bribes to police, including the former police chief, Terry Lewis.But the whole sordid affair unravelled following a series of stories in The Courier-Mail, and later the ABC, that led to the Fitzgerald inquiry.last_img read more