Lawyer X lover loses bid for early release

Richard Barkho's relationship with police informer Nicola Gobbo hasn't earned him an early release.
Richard Barkho's relationship with police informer Nicola Gobbo hasn't earned him an early release.

The jailhouse lover of Victoria Police supergrass Nicola Gobbo has lost his bid to get out of jail early over the "Lawyer X" scandal, meaning he must finish his sentence.

Richard Barkho, who has a child with Ms Gobbo, tried to appeal against the five-year jail term he received in July 2014 for trafficking more than 2.5kg of ice.

His legal team claimed he faced extra hardship in prison and there were concerns for his safety because his partner was a much-publicised police informant, "who visits him still".

They also argued that a life-threatening jail attack had exacerbated pre-existing depression symptoms he was suffering before he was jailed.

Barkho was cut across the face, throat and ear in November 2015 in an attack that required 33 stitches and left him permanently disfigured.

His lawyers claimed the attack, and the relationship with his partner, amounted to fresh evidence that was not considered when he was jailed.

But Court of Appeal judges Phillip Priest and Richard Niall disagreed, refusing Barkho's application on Wednesday.

"What has transpired since the applicant was first sentenced, as a result of his relationship with the former barrister, is not fresh evidence," the judges said in their ruling.

"The evidence cannot properly be said to 'throw a different light on circumstances which existed at the time of sentence'.

"The further proposed ground relying on fresh evidence concerning the ramifications of his relationship with the former barrister is devoid of merit."

Barkho had the opportunity to disclose his relationship with the informer, and the existence of a child, before he was sentenced.

But he did not do so, the judges found.

Ms Gobbo was revealed as Lawyer X on March 1 when a suppression order on her identity was lifted.

Known to police as "Informer 3838", Ms Gobbo was first recruited in 1995 and worked with police until 2009, with drug lord Tony Mokbel and gangland figure Carl Williams among her clients.

By her own admission, her information helped convict hundreds of gangland criminals and drug traffickers.

The High Court previously said Lawyer X's conduct was an "appalling" breach of her obligations, and that Victoria Police managed her in a "reprehensible" way.

A royal commission into the scandal invited clients of Ms Gobbo to come forward if they think their cases may have been compromised.

A number of her clients reportedly plan to appeal jail terms, including Mokbel, who was recently stabbed in jail, and convicted drug trafficker Robert Karam.

Australian Associated Press