Senior cop ‘threatened Finn’

Grant Taylor
Shirley Finn's daughter Bridget Shewring meets a new anonymous witness. Picture: Nic Ellis

Another witness has come forward with startling new allegations about the murder of Shirley Finn, including claims that a former WA Police commissioner had threatened the brothel madam’s life just days before her death.

The witness claims Ms Finn told her that she feared she was “gone” after returning from a meeting with then Assistant Commissioner Owen Leitch, who warned her that she would be shot in the head if she named names at a meeting with the tax office scheduled for the next week.

Ms Finn was found dead in her car with four bullet holes in the head two days after she received the warning from Mr Leitch, who was promoted to commissioner three months later.

The witness, who wants her identity protected, clearly remembers Ms Finn coming to her home in a distressed state on the afternoon of Friday June 20, 1975 to discuss the meeting with Mr Leitch.

“I think this time I am gone, ” the witness claims Ms Finn said. “I told Owen that I am meeting with the tax office soon and that I won’t muck around ... I will give them all the names’.

“He said you better watch what you say and shut your mouth or bang!”

The witness claims that as Ms Finn said “bang”, she held her index finger up to the side of her head and mimicked pulling a trigger on an imaginary gun.

“Then she said, ‘If I go down, so will you with your boys’,” the witness said.

The witness has kept silent about the conversation for 40 years but has decided to speak out after seeing another witness recently come forward with allegations of police links to the crime.

She has met Ms Finn’s daughter Bridget Shewring and has gone to the Corruption and Crime Commission with the allegations of her claims.

Mr Leitch — who is now dead — served in the top job for six years until his retirement in 1981. His credibility took a battering in 2005 when WA’s Court of Appeal overturned the 1959 murder conviction of deaf mute Darryl Beamish after finding a series of so-called confessions to the killing of socialite Jillian Brewer had been made under coercion.

Before his death in 2006, Mr Leitch was asked by Perth author Juliet Wills if he had any involvement in Ms Finn’s execution.

Ms Wills has just released a book about the murder and claims Mr Leitch denied that he had anything to do with the crime.

But she said he did point the finger of suspicion at another former officer — Supt Spike Daniels — who had tried to blow the whistle on his corrupt colleagues during a 1976 inquiry into their links to prostitution.

“I remember him (Mr Leitch) saying to me ‘think about it Juliet, Spike hated prostitutes and he was in charge of the firearms branch at the time,” Ms Wills said.

“It now strikes me as just the most sinister thing to have tried to cast aspersions on the one person who was trying to shine a light back then on what was happening in policing.”