A notorious “old school villain” is a suspect in six unsolved murders in New Zealand and Australia, a Weekend Herald investigation can reveal.
Leslie Maurice Green was a professional criminal who spent 30 years in prison for burglaries, stealing cars, firearms and aggravated robberies. That included a 15-year sentence for a spree of armed hold-ups with an enormous .44 Magnum pistol.
Known as the Old Man, Green was feared and revered in criminal circles because of his reputation for extreme violence and strict adherence to the code of conduct which he lived by.
He was 69 when finally released from prison in 2006, and stayed out of trouble until his death in 2019 at the age of 82.
Despite racking up 46 convictions, police and criminal associates believe Green was caught for only a fraction of the crimes he committed.
A note on his Department of Corrections file says Green was interested in writing an honest account of his life, to be published after his death.
So far, it seems that Green took those secrets to the grave.
But police intelligence and coronial files obtained by the Weekend Herald reveal he was nominated as a suspect in the deaths of at least six people in the 1970s and 80s: Marion Granville, Anna Fiore and Bernard Gray, Ronald Jorgensen, Mervyn Rich and David Wilkins.
“There is some evidence connecting Green to some of these disappearances. However, it is also true that Green exaggerates his involvement to promote his own image among criminals,” according to a police briefing.
“Green considers himself to be an elite criminal and has offered his services as a ‘hitman’ on some occasions.”
Anna Fiore and Bernard Gray, a young couple in Sydney, went missing in February 1984 and their vanishing act was thought to be foul play.
Their bank accounts were untouched, all Gray’s belongings were left in his flat and both their cars were missing.
Fiore, 19, had never been in trouble with police, but Gray, 30, had a number of criminal convictions in New Zealand and Australia.
He was living in a flat with a fellow New Zealander named John Pomeroy, according to previously unpublished police documents.
Australian detectives working the case learned that Pomeroy was in fact Leslie Maurice Green.
He had five aliases in Australia and used a sixth, a passport in the name of his brother, to return to New Zealand a few days after Gray and Fiore were last seen alive.
Green’s campervan had been abandoned in Sydney, about 150 metres from where Gray’s Toyota Landcruiser was eventually discovered by police.
Australian detectives flew to Wellington to interview Green, who refused to cooperate, and the investigation stalled.
“Mainly because we believe the persons who may have information are too afraid to come forward,” according to a report written by Detective Carpenter in September 1984.
While Green’s behaviour raised “grave fears” for the safety of the missing couple, Carpenter conceded the case was circumstantial, with insufficient evidence to arrest Green or anybody else.
The case is still unsolved, New South Wales police confirmed to the Weekend Herald.
But Green was responsible for their deaths, as well as the deaths of others who disappeared in New Zealand, according to the senior detective who helped put him behind bars for a 15-year sentence.
“There is no doubt in my mind he killed that couple from Australia,” said Harry Quinn, a 37-year veteran in the Wellington district who retired in 2008 at the rank of detective inspector.
“We knew he had murdered five or six people but there was simply no evidence.”
Marion Granville, a mother of three young children, was last seen in August 1980, getting into a car outside a dairy in Lower Hutt.
The 29-year-old was facing drug charges with her partner Michael John Sneller, an associate of Green at the time.
Sneller was later convicted of murder and while in prison took legal action to force the Coroner to investigate the cold case. An inquest was eventually held in 1992, in which Sneller told the Coroner he believed Green had killed Granville.
Green and Sneller had a bitter falling-out a few months before she disappeared.
“I knew him to be a particularly violent, unpredictable and dangerous character, even by my standards,” Sneller wrote in an affidavit on the inquest file obtained by the Weekend Herald.
“His threats were not to be taken lightly.”
A police officer’s evidence at the inquest confirmed Green also had an intense dislike of Granville, and was a suspect in her disappearance.
Her disappearance was officially declared “death by misadventure”, although Coroner Philip Comber made no comments about Green.
More than four decades after Granville went missing, Sneller said he had “no doubt” that Green was responsible.
“I know it was him.”
Another suspected victim of Green was David Phillip Wilkins, who went missing in 1987 before his body was found in a rubbish tip.
The official cause of death was a chloroform overdose and another notorious career criminal, whom Green was living with, was charged with improperly burying Wilkins’ body.
He refused to talk to police about Green’s involvement and pleaded guilty.
Ronald Jorgensen, who gained infamy for his part in the Bassett Road machine gun murders in Remuera in the 1960s, went missing in December 1984.
His car was discovered at the bottom of a cliff near Kaikoura. His body was never found.
One theory was that “Jorgy” had faked his death and made his way to Australia, while others in the criminal underworld believed Green set things up to settle an old grudge.
One man who knew both crooks very well doesn’t believe Jorgensen’s death can be pinned on Green.
However, Brian Agnew, a former safe-blower who “worked” closely with Green for several years, is adamant that Green killed his close friend Merv Rich, who was a fellow thief.
Rich went missing after going to Wellington with Green to plan and commit burglaries.
When questioned by Rich’s worried girlfriend, Green told her Rich had left suddenly for Australia to deal heroin with the Mr Asia drug syndicate.
“I knew that was a lie,” said Agnew, who was also close friends with Peter Fulcher, one of the senior Mr Asia figures.
Agnew never told the police what he knew as “narking” is considered a cardinal sin in the criminal fraternity.
Green was never charged in connection to anyone’s death.
“He was an absolute psychopath,” said Agnew.
“I’ve been straight for 25 years, not even a parking ticket. But I always kept a weapon in the house, just in case Les turned up. The day he died was when I got rid of it.”
Source: Read Full Article