Slain gangland lawyer Joe Acquaro gave Victoria Police information on his former client and convicted drug trafficker Francesco “Frank” Madafferi.
The revelation, confirmed by Victoria’s Court of Appeal on Tuesday, follows a lengthy fight by the force to keep the murdered lawyer’s role secret.
However it says it never approved the man referred to as “Lawyer A” as a human source.
“To be clear, Lawyer A was never approved as a human source,” Victoria Police said in a statement following the court’s ruling.
“While he was assessed as a potential informer in 2008 and 2014, on both occasions he was deemed unsuitable for registration.”
Mr Acquaro’s role came to light following Victoria’s Lawyer X scandal over Nicola Gobbo’s snitching on her own gangland clients.
Madafferi, one of the criminals now fighting to overturn drug trafficking convictions over the 2007 discovery of 15 million ecstasy pills in tomato tins, was represented by them both.
Appeal judges say Mr Acquaro had “two discrete sets of interactions” with Victoria Police.
The first was in 2008, when authorities contacted the lawyer about information to do with the gangland wars.
Madafferi, represented by Mr Acquaro on unrelated immigration matters at the time, came up only in passing.
In 2014, the pair had a falling out. Mr Acquaro stopped acting for him ahead of the drug trafficking trial and contacted police.
“He described his falling out with Madafferi, expressed his anger about the manner in which Madafferi had drawn his sons into his sphere of influence and reported that Madafferi was standing over traders at the wholesale fruit and vegetable market in the company of a man with a gun,” the court ruling said.
“He also reported a threat to his own life.”
Mr Acquaro was shot dead in March 2016.
His provision of information to police could also have implications for another former client, Saverio Zirilli, also convicted over the tomato tins bust and pursuing an appeal.
He too was double crossed by Ms Gobbo, who “acted in clear breach of her duty”.
“As regards Mr Acquaro, there might be legitimate questions as to whether he provided Mr Zirilli with independent and impartial advice,” the appeal judges added.
Victoria Police said it acknowledged the court’s decision to release information relating to Zirilli and Madafferi, and would not be appealing either matter.