John Stuart’s tales of an impending nightclub extortion racket that he related to both Detective Basil Hicks and reporter Brian Bolton were garbage. Here’s why;
- The Whiskey was the sole club targeted for the stand over. However it was bankrupt and this was known by Stuart. A worthless club is not a plausible target of extortionists. It owed more than one million dollars in today’s terms.
- Stuart’s interviews with his police handler were recorded. The variations in Stuart’s narrative were irreconcilable and nonsensical.
- Criminal extortionists both before and after the Whiskey have never announced their extortion plans through the press for the obvious reason that they are raising their hands to be instantly clamped in handcuffs.
- Sydney criminals were doing nicely in their home town and would not have bothered with a backwater like Brisbane. Rogerson confirmed this point to the Bulletin reporter.
- The missing tens of thousands of dollars of Whiskey funds, allegedly stolen, were never investigated or accounted for.
The state and federal police, as well as the police commissioner and police minister, rightly dismissed an extortion racket as being a credible possibility.
The leaves us with the obvious alternative. The fire related to the Whiskey’s financial strife. The fire was most likely an inside job.
There is evidence the now deceased former manager of the club, John Hannay, ruined the club through a combination of stealing and financing Chequers (the Whiskey’s sister club) through an underfunded company. The Whiskey was cash based only, all the takings were handed to Hannay at the end of each night. Tens of thousands of dollars, all in Hannay’s control, went missing. Hannay never explained how this could occur and no one bothered asking.
When Stuart and Finch went to jail all investigations ceased. The police narrative; only two people dunnit. If only they were involved all avenues of inquiry were shut down, including the possibility that others, such as former Whiskey manager Hannay and serial killer O’Dempsey were involved.
The owners of the Whiskey, brothers Brian and Ken Little, took the fraud allegations to the police. They and other Whiskey staff named John Hannay as the culprit. Reporter Brian Bolton announced the impending police investigation to the world by publishing it in his paper.
Knowing he is the prime suspect in the theft allegations, Hannay announces he is going to burn the Whiskeys accounting books (if they existed) in Alice’s bar which Hannay himself owned. Three days after Bolton’s article, Hannay is true to his word. He torches his own food bar after changing Alice’s insurance just prior to its destruction. A win win for Hannay. An insurance payout and the elimination of the Whiskey’s financial records.
By burning the Whiskey Hannay alleviates the debt he caused as the Littles received an insurance payout. It also killed off any investigation of the missing cash. There was an extra incentive for John Hannay. Hannay felt humiliated by the Littles, having been sacked by them twice, once in the presence of private investigators. In addition, Hannay was savagely bashed next to Chequers nightclub by three of the Whiskey staff. Hannay told the police that the Littles organised the assault. Hannay had multiple motives.
Hannay was a thief before, during and after his stint as the Whiskey manager. He would eventually go to jail for stealing and someone tried to kill him due to his non payments in later business dealings (the would be assassin went to jail). This is who he was was; a life long fraudster and liar, someone whose moral compass was so awry, he could order the destruction of a club, even if it was packed with patrons. He had a track record of burning establishments. He had torched one weeks earlier.
I posed a number of questions to manager Hannay in the Whiskey Au Go Go Massacre;
Why did Hannay drop Stuart off at the Whiskey on 5 March as Longhurst had stated? Why did Stuart lie and say Hannay was working at Kin Kin as a postmaster during this week? John Ryan (security guard) said that Stuart was seen in remote places with Hannay prior to the fire. Brian Little saw a note from Stuart saying he would do anything for Hannay. Why was he never properly questioned about the missing Whiskey funds? Why was he not quizzed about the fire at Alice’s, both from the point of view of an alleged insurance scam and the destruction of the Whiskey’s financial records when the company was still in the hands of the receiver? What was his relationship with the Clockwork Orange goons, and with McCulkin and O’Dempsey? Why was he never asked about his relationship with Cabaret Holdings Pty Ltd and the alleged misfinancing? Why was he debiting money for the Littles through his own company, Prestige Artists? The police also had intelligence that Hannay had asked Stuart to intimidate Farr (a later Whiskey manager), but had never pursued Hannay about this. Why not?
Hannay always evaded answering queries and with his death he will never have to. His Supreme Court appearance during the trial of Stuart and Finch was special in this regard. He had ‘brain damage’ from a horse accident and gave incoherent answers during cross examination. Immediately after the trial Hannay made a miraculous recovery and resumed managing hotels and clubs.
Hannay never had to account for his actions because there is compelling evidence in the police’s own files that evidence was fabricated to ensure there was a quick resolution of the case and only Stuart and Finch went to jail