The partner of former WA vice squad detective Robert Nevin has claimed he told her he’d murdered madam Shirley Finn on a “work-related order”, the Coroner’s Court heard yesterday.

“He just said he shot her. Blew her head off, the woman, known as Witness L, told the court.

“He said he pulled out a gun, and he said it was a sawn-off; he said it was in his flares.”

Witness L said when Nevin told her of his crime,“I went blank. I went into absolute shock. I found out I was with a murderer.”

Witness L, now in her 60s, met Robert Nevin in 1976, the year after Shirley Finn was found dead, with four bullet wounds to the back of her head, in her car at Royal Perth Golf Club.

At the time of meeting the vice detective, Witness L was in her early 20s, working at a brothel, which the vice detective was visiting daily. They later began a relationship. 

She said in the late 1970s or early 1980s Nevin, now deceased, a “violent and aggressive” man, told her how he’d shot the Perth madam, after being ordered to do so.

“He said he’d been told to go down to ‘the green’ “she told the court, saying he was referring to the golf course.

That night, Ms Finn had gone to police headquarters wanting to speak to the police commissioner.

“She was going to the newspapers because she was paying tax on graft,” Witness L told the Coroner. Her killing was a “work-related order,” because Shirley Finn had  “got greedy. She wanted more money – just like they wanted more money.”

She said Nevin revealed he had driven an undercover police car, a green Torana, to approach Ms Finn at the golf course. “He said he drove up, or she drove up. But eventually the cars met and the headlights shone over her car.”

“He lit up a cigarette, got out of the car and he went over to her window and he lent down and lifted up his flares where he had a sawn-off shotgun in a holster and he lifted it up and shot her in the face… blew her head off.”

“Bob said that she caused trouble, she got what she deserved; she was going to bring down the police department. She wanted to stop paying tax on the graft money.”

Nevin, she said, “was trying to justify what he did, to me. He was saying it was her own fault.. He was trying to build up my estimation of him, get my respect back.”

She he late partner was  “violent, aggressive. I think, a psychopath; I think he’d killed other people,” she said.

He had “lots of guns and pistols, eight or nine.”

One time, when she’d wanted to leave him for good, “he took a shotgun out and said he was going to kill my children..

“I took me about 30 seconds to think about it, and then I said I’d made a mistake, we could fix it and I said I’d stay with him. So I stayed.”

Over the years, from time to time, Nevin would bring up the Finn murder, but never in great detail.

“If he reminded me of it, he would say, ‘just remember what happened to Shirley Finn.’”

After he died in 1987, she got rid of his guns; some were unlicensed. “There were so many. I was shocked. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know whether I could go to the police because they were involved – what could I do?
“In the end, I wrapped them in plastic and I went to the Stirling landfill and threw them there. I was really panic-stricken by then.”

Shirley Finn with her children

Witness L’s startling revelations come just two days after the inquest heard that Nevin’s former colleague, vice squad chief Bernie Johnson had made a “bedroom confession” to girlfriend Carolyn Langan that he had murdered Shirley Finn.

Witness L said Robert Nevin “respected Bernie Johnson. He was super-smart, too. They were always trying to get him for corruption and they couldn’t find anything.”
She said there were a group of police officers “who controlled Perth: everything. The sex, drugs, stealing. If you wanted to get your car over the pits you’d go to these police and you’d get your car over the pits straight away.”
But, she said, “They couldn’t open a brothel.. That’s the one thing they couldn’t do. There was a containment policy.”

The inquest, attended daily by the murdered madam’s daughter Bridget, at times in tears, continues today.

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