Australia Today

Roger Rogerson, Possibly Australia's Most Corrupt Cop, Dead at 83

The disgraced detective suffered a brain aneurism on Thursday while serving his fourth prison stint.
Arielle Richards
Melbourne, AU
​Disgraced detective Roger Rogerson died on Sunday. Photo via Fairfax Media (Nine)
Disgraced detective Roger Rogerson died on Sunday. Photo via Fairfax Media (nine)

Possibly Australia’s most corrupt police officer, Roger Rogerson, has died. Once the NSW police force’s most decorated detective, the 83-year-old was serving his fourth prison stint when he suffered a brain aneurism that led to his death on Sunday.

His life was spent embroiled in controversy and marked an era of corruption for the NSW police force throughout the 1970s and 80s.

Rogerson joined the NSW police force at 18 in 1959, where he quickly rose through the ranks to win 12 commendation awards, including the top NSW police award for the arrest of an escaped armed robber in 1980.


A member of the armed hold-up squad, which was famous for having the state’s best and most notorious detectives, between 1974 and 1978 Rogerson was present when cops shot and killed bank robber and murderer Philip Western, shot dead a man attempting to hold up a bank courier and was present at Rose Bay when police shot and killed bank robber Gordon Thomas.

In 1986 Rogerson was dismissed from the force when the Police Tribunal upheld 7 out of 9 misconduct allegations against him.

In June 1981, he shot and killed heroin dealer Warren Lanfranchi in Chippendale. The court found Rogerson had fatally shot Lanfranchi while trying to make an arrest, however the jury did not find it was in self defence.

According to Lanfranchi’s girlfriend Sally-Anne Huckstepp, he was unarmed and carrying $10,000. Huckstepp publicly accused police of corruption over the shooting, demanding further investigation into the death. Huckstepp was later killed in 1986, her body found in a pond in Centennial Park. No one was charged with her murder.

Lanfranchi had been taken to the meeting where he’d meet his fate by Neddy Smith, a major crime figure, convicted murderer and drug kingpin who was acquitted of Huckstepp’s murder. 

In February 1994 Ian Temby QC, the ICAC commissioner of the time, concluded in a report Rogerson’s relationship with Smith was corrupt. He said the pair’s relationship was “well known to very many police” and “many criminals”.


“Rogerson’s dealings with Smith brought discredit on the police service, and must be described as scandalous,” he wrote.

In 1984 undercover detective Michael Drury was shot in his home in front of his wife and two daughters. He gave a dying deposition accusing Rogerson of offering him a bribe. Rogerson was acquitted of the bribery charges the following year.

He was acquitted in 1989 of conspiring with a hitman and a drug dealer to murder Drury, and then was widely suspected of murdering the hitman, who disappeared in May 1985.

Rogerson was ultimately jailed in 1990 for conspiring to pervert the course of justice with two other men, over opening bank accounts totalling $110,000 under false names. 

On May 20, 2014, Rogerson and a fellow former detective Glen McNamara shot and killed 20-year-old student Jamie Gao. Most of the incident was caught on CCTV. The men wrapped Gao’s body in a tarp and took it out to sea. Both men were convicted on life sentences for murder in 2016.

The disgraced former detective was serving his sentence for the murder at Long Bay prison in Sydney when he suffered a brain aneurysm in his cell on Thursday, and died at the Prince of Wales hospital in Randwick on Sunday.

Arielle Richards is the multimedia reporter at VICE Australia, follow her on Instagram and Twitter.