Lenny McPherson as informer

Former Assistant Police Commissioner Geoff Schuberg describes raiding Lenny McPherson's home and recruiting him as an informer.

Who was Lenny McPherson?

During the 1974 Moffitt Royal Commission Lennie McPherson was described as ‘a vicious, powerful criminal who is so well entrenched in organised crime activity in New South Wales that he is often referred to in the media and by his associates as “Mr Big”’.1

Most of his early life was spent in and out of court and prison, but by the end of the 1950s his relationship as an ‘informer’ for the likes of Detective Sergeant Ray Kelly (p94) saw his fortunes change. ‘McPherson is the man who runs this state and has since 1957 to my knowledge’, fellow criminal Neddy Smith2 once wrote.3

McPherson emerged from the gang wars of the 1960s as a dominant player along with criminals such as George Freeman and Stan Smith. Together they controlled much of the vice operation in Sydney, supplying illegal gambling machines and running protection rackets.

In 1994, at the age of 73, McPherson was sentenced to a maximum four- year jail term for his role in organising the beating of a family business associate. He died in Cessnock Correctional Centre in 1996.

While working for the National Crime Authority - a federal organisation established in 1984 to investiagte orgainised crime across Australian states and territories (now the Australian Crime Commission) - Geoff Schuberg recruited Lenny McPherson as an informer.


1. David Hickie, The Prince and the premier, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1985, p244.

2. Neddy Smith was one of Sydney's most notorious criminals in the 1980s, who had strong connections with corrupt police. He is currently serving two life sentences for murder in the hospital of Long Bay Correctional Complex; he has advanced Parkinson’s disease.

3. Neddy Smith, Catch and kill your own, Pan Macmillan Australia, Sydney, 1995, p9.

4. Senior Detective in the NSW police who was allegedly involved in many serious crimes from murder to protection rackets.

5. Chris Flannery, often referred to as Mr Rent-to-kill, was a Melbourne born criminal allegedly responsible for many high-profile murders in Sydney.

6. Violent criminal who was gunned down in the early 70s. McPherson was alleged to have been one of those responsible for his death.

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Tim Girling-Butcher

Tim Girling-Butcher

Head of Digital & Design

Tim leads a creative team of design, digital and multimedia specialists supporting the delivery of MHNSW activities across our physical sites and online platforms. He has over 25 years of experience working in the cultural sector in Australia and New Zealand. He has led multiple creative projects across a variety of platforms including exhibitions, programs and digital interpretation. Tim’s journalistic training, fixation with technology and passion for audience engagement drive him to find new and exciting ways to tell stories in his current role as Head of Digital & Design for MHNSW. Tim is a published author and exhibition curator.