Online images of Gobbo’s children reveal secret location

Several photographs and a video of Nicola Gobbo’s children were posted on a social media site by an overseas-based childcare centre, which revealed the exact location of the disgraced barrister who has been in hiding for almost three years.

The images were posted in 2019 and remain online, despite grave concerns for the safety of Ms Gobbo and her family, and strict suppression orders imposed by the royal commission to protect them.

Former lawyer and police source Nicola Gobbo on the ABC last year.Credit:ABC 7.30

Victoria Police was unaware of the significant security breach, after repeatedly warning Ms Gobbo that she was at “almost certain” risk of murder because of her role as a police informer.

The images obtained by The Age identify the country where Ms Gobbo and her family were residing, along with the name and location of the childcare centre.

The breach is expected to inflame tensions between Victoria Police and Ms Gobbo, who is expected to file a new civil claim against the force over its failure to protect her identity.

Victoria Police has been paying for Ms Gobbo’s accommodation and security arrangements since she went into hiding in late 2018.

Ms Gobbo has previously defied warnings by police.

In 2018, just months before the High Court decision to reveal her role as a supergrass, Ms Gobbo attended a media event to accept an award for her volunteer work at the Brighton-area childcare centre that her children attended at the time.

Photographs of Ms Gobbo and her children were also posted on the centre’s Facebook page and remain online.

At one stage, Victoria’s chief child protection officer threatened to have Ms Gobbo’s children removed from her care if she failed to better conceal her identity and location.

Margaret McMurdo, head of the royal commission into the Lawyer X scandal, has said the welfare of Ms Gobbo and her children had been a significant concern throughout the commission.

“We took great care to ensure that her whereabouts were protected and that there were no photographs of the children available,” Ms McMurdo told the ABC in December last year.

“Of course, that’s a real concern … and I’m sure that’s one shared by everybody in Victoria Police and in the Victorian government – yes, it’s a real concern,” she said.

In her findings released in November 2020, Ms McMurdo described the use of Ms Gobbo as a registered informer during Melbourne’s bloody underworld war as a “systemic failure”.

She recommended that a special investigator be appointed to determine if Ms Gobbo and several police officers broke the law.

In 2010 Ms Gobbo received $2.88 million to settle a lawsuit against Victoria Police, after the Victorian Government Solicitors Office obtained advice at the time from Peter Hanks, QC, that Ms Gobbo would be “likely to succeed in her claim for compensation”.

Ms Gobbo, who owns five properties in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, also received almost $2 million in public funding to pay for her legal representation during three trials in a failed bid to conceal her role as a registered police informer.

Her lawyer, Tim Tobin, SC, declined to comment when contacted by The Age on Tuesday.

Victoria Police also declined to comment.

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