Paul Dale on the Royal Commission, Nicola Gobbo and Victoria Police

LONG WAIT: Wangaratta's Paul Dale feels vindicated by the findings of the counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Police Informants. He said the conduct of police and Nicola Gobbo cost him greatly. Picture: MARK JESSER
LONG WAIT: Wangaratta's Paul Dale feels vindicated by the findings of the counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Police Informants. He said the conduct of police and Nicola Gobbo cost him greatly. Picture: MARK JESSER

For more than a decade Paul Dale has had to defend himself against accusations, first in the courthouse and later in the community.

But now, the northeast Victorian, from Wangaratta, finally feels vindicated.

"[The Royal Commission] went through all my matters with a fine tooth comb and there are no adverse findings against me," he said.

"But yet the people who have thrown the accusations at me and prosecuted me in a unlawful, unethical and illegal fashion are the ones now looking down jail-time themselves."

The former drug squad detective has maintained his innocence ever since he was charged with the murder of Terrence and Christine Hodson in 2008.

Charges in the case were dropped, but he remained tainted by the accusation.

It was later uncovered the star witness in the case was lawyer turned informant Nicola Gobbo, who Mr Dale had sought legal advice from and who had covertly recorded a conversation with Mr Dale.

The pair also had a sexual relationship.

Mr Dale said after years of being a lone voice professing his innocence, he now had the backing of the country's highest investigative power.

"It's an incredible turnaround, I could never turn it around...," he said.

"I was up against a massive department that had way more power than I could ever yield... I was convicted and condemned by the public and by that screwed-up process by the Victoria Police but now I don't have to justify myself anymore.

"I've now got the backup for it, I can say read the royal commission."

IN OTHER NEWS:

Mr Dale said there were times when he didn't think the revelations would ever come to light.

On Tuesday, a report by the counsel assisting the royal commission was released with a finding that police officers and Ms Gobbo may have committed criminal offences.

Victoria Police has since issued a statement apologising to the courts and to the community, saying allowing Ms Gobbo to inform on her clients was "profoundly wrong" and an "indefensible interference" in the lawyer-client relationship.

Mr Dale said police were right to apologise as "you can't defend the indefensible", but he was still waiting for them to apologise to him.

He said the conduct of police and especially former commissioners was "disgraceful", but new commissioner Shane Patton seemed to be "a breath of fresh air".

"When everything has been really black and miserable, [I thought] 'no, I'm not going to let them beat me'."

Paul Dale

Mr Dale said as revelations came out of the royal commission, the public perception of him had changed with many people realising what he had been saying about police was true.

But the damage was already done.

Mr Dale said the conduct of police destroyed his career and resulted in him being incarcerated twice, and also hurt his mental health leading him to be on medication for the past 17 years.

"I lost my business, lost my reputation, lost my mind," he said. "The only reason I haven't been swinging from a tree during all that period at different times during dark times is because I made a really strong process in the back of my mind.

"When everything has been really black and miserable, [I thought] 'no, I'm not going to let them beat me'."

Gordon Legal partner James Higgins, who represented Mr Dale through the royal commission, said the conduct of Victoria Police during Mr Dale's criminal proceedings had been "rightly condemned".

"Paul very much looks forward to the final report and the numerous next steps which ought to take place given the nature of the conduct," Mr Higgins said.

Mr Higgins said the ramifications of the commission would be felt for some time and he hopes it will result in a profoundly different criminal justice system.

"I expect charges to flow from this commission," he said. "There's going to be lots of people who will be challenging their prison sentences and conditions based on the findings of this report and I expect many of them will be released."

This story 'I'm not going to let them beat me': How Dale survived his darkest days first appeared on The Border Mail.