( late of Newcastle )

New South Wales Police Force

Regd. #   ?

Rank:  Detective Sergeant – Terminated

Stations?, Griffith Detectives, forced transfer to Redfern

ServiceFrom  ? ? ?  to  ? ? ? = ? years Service

AwardsNo find on It’s An Honour


Died on:  Sunday  10 July 2016 in a Nursing Home – Newcastle


Age:  75

Funeral date:  Friday  15 July 2016 @ 3pm

Funeral location:  Pettigrews family Chapel, 444 Pacific Hwy, Belmont

Buried at?

 Memorial at?



[alert_blue]BRIAN is NOT mentioned on the Police Wall of Remembrance[/alert_blue] * NOT JOB RELATED







Late of Newcastle

Passed away peacefully after a long illness

10th July 2016

Aged 75 Years

Dearly loved husband of PAM, much loved father and father-in-law of PAUL, MANDY & GEOFF AMIES, loving Grandad of EMMA, NICHOLAS and RACHEL. Loved brother and brother-in-law of DAVID & BARBARA, ROBYN DUNCAN and uncle of their families.

The Family and Friends of BRIAN are warmly invited to attend a Celebration of his Life to be held in the New Belmont Chapel, 444 Pacific Hwy, Belmont (parking via Henry St) THIS FRIDAY 15/07/16 Service commencing at 3pm.



Published in The Newcastle Herald on July 13, 2016



Trimbole ‘dangerous’ but Mackay loathed Grassby

June 14 2013

Donald Mackay knew he was marked down as an enemy of the drug-growing families of the irrigated farmlands around Griffith, and the secret syndicate that ran them. He had been exposed as the covert informant of drug squad detectives who had used his furniture store in 1975 to plan secretly what was then Australia’s biggest drug bust – $60 million worth of marijuana growing on a property at Coleambally, 65 kilometres from Griffith.

In July 1977, two days before he was assassinated, his body spirited into a 36-year mystery, Mackay sat in that same furniture store and told me his blood had ”run cold” when he discovered that his involvement in the bust had been subsequently exposed.

One of the drug squad members had been forced to hand over his notebook at the trial of four men alleged to have been involved in the crop. Mackay’s name and the drug squad’s use of his store as their Griffith headquarters were documented within its pages.

Mackay did not, of course, contemplate being murdered – he was a former political candidate and a pillar of Griffith’s community.

But he knew that Griffith in the mid-1970s was not a good place to make enemies.

He also knew strange things happened when citizens tried to tip off police about what was occurring. In 1974, an agriculture inspector named Joseph Patrick Keenan had stumbled across a group of men and women, including a fellow from a district winery, packing marijuana into green plastic bags in a farm shed.

In rural Australia in 1974, it was an astonishing sight. When Keenan reported what he had witnessed to Griffith police, Detective Sergeant John Kenneth Ellis didn’t seem interested and took no statement. Within a day, Keenan got a call from a relative of one of the marijuana packers informing him the family knew he had spoken to the police.

Several weeks later, the body of a man named Joseph Patrick Keenan was found floating in a canal near Griffith. This Joseph Patrick Keenan was no relation of the agricultural inspector.

Ellis, who was in charge of the investigation of the unfortunate man’s death, reported at his inquest that Keenan was an alcoholic and there were no suspicious circumstances. Just an amazing coincidence, apparently.

Mackay and others in Griffith detected things were crook. They proved to be right.

Ellis and the other two detectives from Griffith at the time, Senior Constable John Francis Robbins and Detective Sergeant Brian James Borthwick, were later to be given prison stretches for perverting the course of justice in relation to two drug crops.

Thus, when Mackay got wind of a big crop at Coleambally in 1975, he went undercover – and very likely sealed his fate.

To know that marijuana growing was flourishing and to condemn it was one thing. But to skirt around the local law and provide information and accommodation to the quiet men from the NSW drug squad, with spectacular damage to the growers and the syndicate, was quite another.

Yet Mackay, a conservative man given to smoking a pipe and wearing tweed jackets on his large frame, disliked being called an anti-drugs campaigner.

His mission was not simply to expose the small number of families who owned vineyards and citrus groves and lived in ”grass castles” – huge brick mansions on tiny farming blocks – whose mysterious profits were corrupting his town.

It was also political.




Leave a Reply

Notify of