A former police informant has told the David Eastman trial he was made a sort of unofficial officer and given a gun during an operation run by murdered AFP officer Colin Winchester.
Mr Eastman is on trial for the 1989 killing of the assistant Australian Federal Police commissioner, who was gunned down in his neighbours driveway.
A key part of the defence case is the suggestion police did not adequately explore alternative theories about who killed Mr Winchester, other than Mr Eastman.
This was prompted by the theory mafia figures believed they had Mr Winchesters protection, and were angry when they discovered that was not the case.
Mr Eastmans lawyers today began the defence case by quizzing the informant about Operation Seville, which targeted mafia figures involved in two marijuana crops near Bungendore in the early 1980s.
The man told the court that when the operation was given the go-ahead he was installed as an unofficial operative.
He said he had offered to help the police find information about the murder of anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay in Griffith several years earlier.
But when asked to elaborate on his role he refused to answer many questions saying her feared incriminating himself.
He denied knowledge of being granted indemnity from prosecution despite being shown documents by Mr Eastmans lawyer George Georgiou suggesting he had.
The man also denied using a cover story with the mafia figures involved in the marijuana crops, by saying he had the protection of Colin Winchester.
“I have never in my life mentioned the name Colin Winchester to anyone involved with me in any illegal activities,” he said.
He later told the court how he had taken a car to be used in a drug delivery to Melbourne, to police, who installed a listening device.
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A former police informant says he never mentioned the name Colin Winchester to cannabis growers who believed they were under some kind of protection, the David Eastman trial heard Monday.
The cannabis growers later known as the Bungendore 11 and linked to the Italian mafia started two crops in NSW in the 1980s under the supervision of the police informant.
The informant was in turn under the supervision of Mr Winchester, then a senior officer in the Australian Federal Police.
Mr Eastman, 72, is on trial in the ACT Supreme Court after pleading not guilty to the January 1989 murder of Mr Winchester, who was by then an assistant commissioner.
But his defence say it's possible someone linked to the Italian mafia murdered Mr Winchester, after the Bungendore 11 were arrested and the plantations failed.
At the opening of the defence case on Monday, they called as their first witness the former informant, who cannot legally be identified.
The man was grilled about what protections the Bungendore 11 believed they were operating under when growing the crops.
He told the court, at times assisted by an Italian interpreter, that the plan with Mr Winchester involved him acting as agent provocateur to encourage people to participate in an illegal scheme.
He said he was made an unofficial constable and given a gun during the operation but told not to kill anybody with it.
The witness frequently refused to answer questions saying they would incriminate him, or denied recollection of the matters defence barrister George Georgiou SC asked him about on Monday.
When it was suggested it was a significant matter in his life, the witness said not really, and that he had an axe to grind and wanted to hurt the people involved as much as possible.
While the witness said he had told the growers he had protection over what they were doing at the two plantations, he denied ever mentioning the federal police or the name Colin Winchester.
Asked if he told one of the growers that he had to pay the people providing protection, the witness denied having any recollection of the conversation.
Asked further how he could protect the group while growing cannabis, the witness said he could have told them any story and that he knew a lot of politicians.
The witness also denied recollection of the immunity from prosecution he had been granted from his involvement in the operation.
Presented by Mr Georgiou with one document in relation to that indemnity, the witness called it a piece of scrap paper and denied that it was his signature on one of the documents.
In reference to his possible misspelling of an associate's name, he said: "I'm not Sophocles".
The Bungendore 11 were due to appear at a committal hearing at the Queanbeyan Magistrates Court in February 1989, about one month after Mr Winchester was killed.