NWN Library
NWN Library

When a drug boss posed as Sir Joh

When visiting Brisbane in the 1970s, it was not a good idea to make fun of the then-Premier Joh Bjelke Petersen. But the soc-called "Mr Asia" drug boss and killer liked to live dangerously.

As crime reporter Andrew Rule reveals in his entertaining True Crime podcasts, Sydney-based Clark - the head of the Mr Asia drug syndicate - had invited husband and wife Douglas and Isobel Wilson to the Queensland capital for a "boat trip". The Wilsons, both junkies who sold heroin for Clark, were alarmed by the prospect of the "sightseeing" tour of Moreton Bay Clark had in mind.

They rightfully feared for their lives. (The bodies of the couple were found in a shallow grave at a vacant block of land at Rye on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula barely a year later.)

But the Brisbane boat trip never happened.

When Clark and his party booked in at the Gazebo Hotel on Wickham Terrace, they unwittingly came to the attention of local police.

Joh Bjelke-Petersen, former premier of Queensland.
Joh Bjelke-Petersen, former premier of Queensland.

Clark, who had made a fortune importing Buddha Sticks (marijiana) into Australia from Asia and had graduated to the large-scale importation of heroin, considered himself cunning, smart, cautious, careful and a ruthless operator.

But deep down he was a smart-arse.

When signing the register at the Gazebo, he couldn't help himself. Instead of putting T Sinclair or any of the other aliases he used, and had fake IDs for, he put Petersen. J Petersen. As in Joh (Bjelke) Petersen, Premier of Queensland.

And after the name, he added the letters "MP" - as in Member of Parliament.

It proved to be a joke too far.

The manager saw the name in the ledger and thought to himself "these blokes are having a lend and taking the piss".

He thought, quite rightly, that they're probably conmen and fraudulent people and he suspected they were running up a massive champagne bill that they would probably not pay.

The manager, fearing the group would do a runner on the bill, rang the police.

When some no-nonsense Brisbane detectives went to Clark's room, they found $5500 in cash - about a year's wages in those days.

The police then had a "vigorous" talk with Terry Sinclair/Clark.

They went to search Clark's car in the garage, a purple Jaguar, which is not exactly incognito.

In it, they found a black Magnum pistol which, unbeknown to them at the time, had been used to kill somebody the day before.

The cops arrested Clark and his mate Jimmy Shepherd and locked them in a cell at police HQ on Roma Street.

Also in the cell were two other prisoners, who were actually undercover cops.

Incredibly, Clark and Shepherd made references to drug deals and other illegal activities in front of the undercover cops.

Meanwhile, police had brought in the Wilsons, who were very nervous about Clark's intentions toward them. Police took the couple to a safe house where Douglas Wilson spilled his guts for six days. He told the cops so much, they had 112 pages of interviews

Douglas Wilson spilled his guts to police
Douglas Wilson spilled his guts to police

.

In it were some gems, such as the fact Clark had around $100 million of heroin stashed in Sydney, that Clark had skipped bail in New Zealand and that Clark had a murder weapon in his car and that Clark had murdered one of his cohorts, Harry "Pommy'' Lewis.

Clark had driven up to Brisbane in the purple Jag with Pommy. Along the way, Clark stopped and persuaded his pal to look under the bonnet. While he did, Clark shot him and dumped his body in a ditch on the side of the highway.

About 100km up the road, Clark thought to himself that he hasn't disposed of the body properly - which was true - so turned around, got the body, stuck it in the boot of the Jag, and took off down a bush track, where he cut the hands off the body, smashed the teeth in with a hammer and left the corpse in the bush to rot.

What Wilson's revelations mean is that police in Brisbane now had a very clear picture of who Terry Clark was. He was a killer. He was a drug runner. He was armed and dangerous.

Listen to more of Andrew Rule's True Crime podcasts