Mark Alexander WYLIE VA
Victoria Police Force
Regd. # ?
Rank: Detective Senior Sergeant – retired
Stations: ?, Armed Robbery Squad
Service: From ? to ?
Awards: National Medal – granted 7 September 1990
No find on It’s An Honour in relation to his VA
Died on: Monday 14 July 2014
Funeral date: Tuesday 22 July 2014 @ 2pm
Funeral location: Chapel of the Victoria Police Academy, View Mount Rd, Glen Waverley
Buried at: Macedon Cemetery, Bent St, Macedon
Memorial at: ?
Funeral location: ?
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WYLIE, Mark Alexander
This is how his daughter Fiona would like everyone to remember him.
The warrior still fights on.
Travelling into the cosmos at lightning speed.
The universe will cuddle you.
Unrelenting in the pursuit to eradicate the pain.
Your heart is glowing.
Surrounded by radiant beacons to heal the open wounds that still remain.
Singing along with Barry White.
The eclectic superstar dancing into the light.
Transformative. Pure essence. You are unfolding at a rapid pace.
I pray to God that you find a majestic and beautiful place.
Russell Street Bombing claims last victim
It is surprisingly easy to break into a hospital, even one filled with cops.
Detective Sergeant Mark Wylie was recovering after he was badly wounded in a gun battle with a suspect in the 1985 Russell Street bombing that killed policewoman Angela Taylor and wounded another 21 people.
Shot through the chest, Wylie nearly died at the scene and again on the operating table, but his elite fitness and stubbornness helped him defy the odds.
He was sent to the old St Kilda Road Police Hospital to recuperate and his visitors were suppose to be vetted. So the thought of a couple of stray reporters wandering in was out of the question.
So we took the back door. There were allegations that we ( police reporter Jim Tennison and myself ) wore doctors’ coats and borrowed stethoscopes to gain access, but that would be unethical, outrageous and possibly true.
I had a standing joke with the good-looking and perpetually tanned Wylie, suggesting he had a ray lamp in his office, a sunroof in his police car and spent his leave playing French cricket on a Bahamas beach.
With Wylie out for therapy we ”decorated” his room with tropical fruits and summer props so it looked like a set out of Gilligan’s Island. Wylie returned and immediately got the joke. In between profanities he laughed so much he claimed his stitches were about to burst.
We weren’t the only illegal visitors. One evening Melbourne identity Mick Gatto, whose two-up school had been raided by Wylie, turned up to pay his respects.
The patient thanked him before suggesting he should probably leave. As he turned, Gatto asked what food he missed and the policeman mentioned an occasional craving for a Chinese feed.
( Wylie always enjoyed ethnic food. In recovery his surgeon asked him what he had for dinner the night before the dawn raid. When told it was a Sri Lankan curry, the doctor said, ”That explains it”, before revealing they had removed a seemingly endless number of sesame seeds with tweezers from the patient’s perforated bowel. )
The night after the Gatto visit a taxi turned up with enough food from the Flower Drum to feed the entire ward plus some strays from Prince Henry’s Hospital next door.
It was Anzac Day 1986 when Wylie, who was to lead the raid to arrest bomb suspect Peter Reed in his Kallista home, woke with a sense of dread. The raiding party had not worked together and it was way too late for rehearsals. They had three ballistic vests between 10 and while Wylie was trained to use a shotgun, he had not fired the type assigned for this job.
He familiarised himself by pumping it three times in the Nunawading police station car park at 3am as the team met inside.
As Wylie was to be one of the last through the door he didn’t wear a vest, but as the team fanned through the house, he was the first to see Reed, crouching in a bedroom. ”He’s on his haunches … and he’s pointing a .45 revolver straight at me.”
Reed fired two shots and Wylie returned fire with two rounds until his shotgun jammed.
”He fired off his third and fourth, and basically I walked into the fourth and it went straight through me … It was bang bang, it was like cracker night, it was just on for young and old. There was lead flying everywhere,” Wylie told ABC documentary Trigger Point, which aired earlier this year.
”I knew that I’d been shot. You know, unless you’ve been shot, it’s hard to describe. It’s just a weird, weird feeling.”
Reed, who was also shot and survived, was later acquitted of the Russell Street bombing but convicted of the attempted murder of a policeman.
As the wounded Wylie lay down he started to lose consciousness. ”What I sense is that death, even in violent circumstances, is an extremely peaceful event. A couple of times I was pegging down; I was getting almost peaceful, surreal, elevated. You just drift, you drift peacefully, even in violent circumstances as a result of a gunshot wound; you drift into the big sleep.”
As he drifted he felt another policeman removing his wallet from his back pocket. ”I asked him what he was doing and he said, ‘If you die we will have to put some money on the bar, so it may as well be yours’.” It was that dose of police black humour that brought him back to reality and made him fight to stay awake.
It took months for Wylie to recover physically, but there were deeper scars time couldn’t heal. Sometimes after a few drinks with him you could feel its presence – an invisible cloud that would descend without warning.
While on sick leave he started tertiary studies and when he returned to the armed robbery squad he found there was something missing.
Wylie was always a 100 per cent character: intense, intelligent, meticulous and self-aware. He knew the shooting had changed him and after another armed raid decided he had to leave the squad.
”The psychological stuff just hangs all over you; it’s like an ivy; just crawls all over your body. You just cannot beat it sometimes; it just knocks the daylights out of you. It’s awful.”
He was presented with the prestigious Valour Award and promoted, but he had lost his passion for policing and quit.
For a while he withdrew from old copper mates, perhaps seeing them as a reminder of the morning he nearly died. ”I basically wanted to be on my own so I could nut through the challenge that I had before me.”
He found many of the skills he had developed in the police force were in short supply in private enterprise and became a risk management expert, working in Australia, Asia, Africa and Europe.
We kept in touch and he would ring from time to time from Dubai or Hong Kong for a gossip and a laugh. When I was asked to assist in the Trigger Point documentary on police shootings, I wanted Wylie to tell his story. He instantly agreed.
As we sat in a small Carlton motel room ready to film, the soundman wanted the air-conditioner turned off to avoid the distracting hum. Wylie baulked, saying he would sweat buckets if the room was not cold. I thought the stress would be too much, but once the camera rolled Wylie told his story from beginning to end without a break.
Even though it had been nearly 30 years he remembered every detail as if it was yesterday. Which was hardly surprising, as virtually every day he would think about how he ran into that darkened house without a ballistic vest, carrying a shotgun he wasn’t trained to use, and how the bullet ripped through him before ending trapped in his parka lining.
We spoke to many police involved in shootings and Wylie was perhaps the keenest to have his story told.
Sometimes people say things publicly they can’t bear to say in private. He watched the episode with one of his sons, who held his hand as the story was told. It was a simple act of love which seemed to say, ”Now I understand”.
When he went to bed his son put on his father’s favourite music and just lay with him in silence. As Wylie told me that story his voice cracked with a father’s sense of pride.
Old mates contacted him after the show. Bridges that hadn’t been burnt but had fallen into disrepair were rebuilt.
In the aftermath he decided to use his terrible experience to help another generation of police and wanted to work as a mentor at the Police Academy and with the Police Association.
The last time we spoke he said, ”You don’t know what this means to me. I love you. You’ve saved my life.” And he wanted a long lunch with the police who told their stories on Trigger Point.
At the end of last week he had a chat with an old armed robbery squad mate. ”He seemed in a good place.”
Mark Wylie, 61, took his own life last weekend, leaving a wife, three sons, a daughter from a previous marriage and a thousand questions.
”He never recovered from the shooting. He is another victim of the Russell Street bombing as far as I’m concerned,” a former colleague said.
Chief Commissioner Ken Lay knew Wylie struggled with his demons. ”He was a good man and a much loved police officer.”
There are many critics of the old-style crime squad mentality, but no one can doubt that ingrained sense of loyalty. They backed each other up in armed raids and now back each other up in retirement. They were there for him, but for Wylie it wasn’t enough. On Tuesday they will be there for his funeral.
Our condolences on the passing of Mark Wylie
by Charlie Walker
The Moonee Valley Cricket Club joins with the Moonee Valley Football Club in passing on our condolences to the Wylie family on the passing of Mark.
Mark and Louise’s three sons, Daniel, Nick and Sam played a combined 60 games of junior cricket at Moonee Valley.
Mark was a regular at the junior cricket games, particularly the Friday night home matches when there was an opportunity to relax at the end of the week with other parents.
Our Club is saddened by his passing.
Below is a tribute written for the Football Club by our MVCC Fourths captain Brett Curran – a close friend of Mark.
Moonee Valley Football Club is sad to announce the passing of Mark Wylie who died on Monday 14 July 2014.
Mark had a long association with the Football Club.
Over the last decade Mark was fixture at junior matches watching his sons Sam, Nick and Daniel play for our juniors.
His wife Louise and he have been stalwarts of the junior club with Louise pioneering a professional approach to our junior training volunteers.
Mark was renowned for his sharp mind, good humour and company. Mark held a number of senior executive positions in various organisations and was an expert in security systems.
Earlier Mark had an extensive and successful career with Victoria Police and was the recipient of the Valour Award, the highest award for bravery.
We pass on our deepest sympathies to Louise, Sam, Nick and Daniel.
Hate was the motive. Innocence was the victim
|SOMETIMES life and death can be decided by something as simple as the toss of a coin.Twenty-five years ago, a young policewoman named Angela Taylor was working in the watchhouse at Russell Street when she lost the toss over who would do the staff lunch run.
It was March 27, the Thursday before Easter, and the last day before she would go on leave.
Just on 1pm she was crossing the road as she headed down Russell Street to the northern door of the police canteen.
She was only a metre away when a car bomb, containing around 60 sticks of gelignite, exploded at 47 seconds past 1pm. She was caught in the fireball, suffered horrendous injuries and died 24 days later.
While Melbourne was shocked, those who made the bomb were disappointed with the level of devastation. While they killed one and left another 21 injured, they expected a much greater death toll.
That is why they set the bomb inside the stolen Commodore to explode just after 1pm, reasoning the street would be crowded with police from Russell Street and court staff spilling from the Melbourne Magistrates Court opposite as it broke for lunch.
But it was unusually quiet as the courts were winding down for Easter. On an average weekday a school bus would have been parked in front of the bomb car as up to 40 children visited D24 on excursion. “Luckily the bombers picked the wrong day,” taskforce investigator Gary Ayres reflected this week.
The bomb detonated in one huge blast simultaneously scarring Russell Street and community confidence. The explosion hurled debris hundreds of metres: some landing on the Queen Victoria Hospital roof three blocks away.
Before the smoke cleared there was one giant suspect. His name was Phillip Grant Wilson, a 200-centimetre tall businessman and neo-Nazi. (Although he didn’t have the last bit on his business card.)
He was an explosives expert who had vowed to kill police after his mate, Tom Messenger, died during a raid in Wantirna in January, 1985. Messenger fired shots at police, hitting one in the bullet-proof vest. This was a serious tactical blunder as he was being raided by the Special Operations Group who immediately returned fire, shooting him dead.
Wilson was in court the day of the bombing on firearms charges and his case was adjourned at 11.30 because a shorthand writer was sick. If it had proceeded to lunch, the police witnesses against him would have been crossing the road when the bomb discharged.
Fearing he would go the way of Messenger, he contacted your correspondent to publicly declare his innocence. “I am not a terrorist. I’ll take a lie detector test or truth serum to prove I am not involved.”
This time he was right. It wasn’t him.
Not that it did him much good. He was shot dead outside a South Yarra chiropractic clinic 17 months later.
Another red-hot suspect was armed robber and police hater Claudio Crupi.
Consider the circumstantial case.
Taskforce Russell learned Crupi had built a bomb on his kitchen table the day before the explosion intending to attack a police station. Tick.
As if this wasn’t good enough, he was known to have shot at police. Tick.
Two of the taskforce’s best investigators, Ayres and Gordon Davie, interviewed him. Crupi admitted he built a bomb but claimed it was a fake to frighten Flemington police. Answering the second last question on the formal record of interview, he admitted to hating police. He was asked where those police worked. He replied: “Russell Street.” Double tick.
Both investigators believed they had their man, but were concerned they couldn’t link him to the bomb car. Senior police, keen on a quick result, glossed over the details and told them to charge Crupi.
They refused as they both had nagging doubts.
Just as well, as Crupi didn’t do it, although Ayres maintains he probably would have been convicted if the case had gone to a jury. Again it was a toss of the coin. He could have been charged and convicted and no one would have ever listened to his claims of innocence.
Meanwhile, experts carefully reconstructed the stolen Commodore wreck, and it would be the eye of a veteran that would provide the breakthrough.
Stolen car squad Sergeant Arthur Adams noticed the bomb car and a second one used later that day in a Donvale bank raid had the chassis numbers drilled off the same way. To Adams, it was as good as a fingerprint and he nominated car thief Peter Reed as the offender.
The theory was Reed was recruited to steal the bomb car for Crupi. In reality, he was one of the key planners. A brooding, vicious gunman, he blamed police for his mother’s mental illness and wanted to kill as many as possible.
The raid on Reed‘s Kallista house was carried out on Anzac Day, 1986, by a team recruited from the armed robbery and stolen car squads.
It wasn’t his investigation, but Detective Sergeant Mark Wylie was selected as one of the 10-man raiding party. The trouble was there were only three ballistic vests and, as he was to be the second last through the door, it was decided he didn’t need one. Wylie was given a shotgun. The trouble was he was not trained to use one.
In the pitch black they filed in through the back door. Wylie found himself opposite the suspect. Reed immediately opened fire, hitting Wylie in the body before the gunman was shot by another policeman. For Wylie the distance between life and death could be measured in centimetres. He survived and is now a successful consultant in private industry.
Police quickly linked Reed to the bombing and to another young crook Craig Minogue then considered to be just another fat thug.
The taskforce found the puppet-master was Stan Taylor, a full-time criminal and part-time actor, who turned his young followers from a gang of car thieves to a professional armed robbery unit.
Taylor recruited brothers Craig and Rod Minogue and Peter Reed. As soon as he was arrested Taylor dobbed in his followers, but he was too late to cut a deal. Another member of the gang, Paul Hetzel, had already signed up and became the prosecution’s star witness.
Taylor got life with no minimum, Reed beat the bombing charge but was convicted of a series of offences, including the attempted murder of Mark Wylie. He was released in 1994 only to return to prison.
Minogue, an angry, obese, illiterate, was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years. Exactly two weeks after his July 12, 1988, conviction, he killed multiple murderer Alex Tsakmakis inside Pentridge Prison by hitting him with a pillowcase filled with gym weights (perhaps illustrating the dangers of vigorous exercise for those with homicidal inclinations).
Then something strange happened: he has since become a model prisoner, losing weight and gaining knowledge. Through hard work he completed a series of academic qualifications and is now studying for his PhD in applied ethics at La Trobe University.
His earliest release date is 2016 and he will provide members of the Parole Board with many sleepless nights before then. He committed a murderous terrorist act and many of us would like him to rot in jail. And yet he has done all we could ask in the past 20 years and could be the pin-up boy for rehabilitation.
Angela Taylor didn’t get a second chance. At 21, she was already seen as a rising star who had duxed her academy class. If she stayed in the job you wonder what she would have achieved. Would she now be an officer marked for higher posts or would she be an experienced street copper mentoring juniors and doing her best to deal with conflict and crisis?
They stole from all of us the day the bomb went off. Police became a little more cautious, a little less open and more inclined to unholster their guns. Their training changed and they became more inclined to see the person in the shadows as a threat to be confronted rather than a victim to be helped.
All on the toss of a coin.