‘F**kin break his arm’: Mr Big’s hit on Jim Beam boss
‘F**kin break his arm’: Mr Big’s hit on Jim Beam boss

‘F**kin break his arm’: Mr Big’s hit on Jim Beam boss

Former underworld enforcer, Army commando and police informant Jim Taousanis has revealed the real underbelly of Australian society in a new tell-all book published today.

Taousanis, once described as the toughest gangster on Sydney's 'Golden Mile' of Kings Cross, has written a detailed no-holds-barred book outlining the colourful characters, good and bad, of Sydney during the 1980s and '90s.

This is an edited extract from "Underworld Commando - You were meant to be killed at the Hilton".

In Chapter 6, he reveals a first-hand account of a whiskey war that threatened national imports of Jim Beam and led to the downfall of one of Australia's biggest criminal figures.

 

******

"It's just an arm. I want you to just f'kn break his arm!"

- Lenny 'Mr Big' McPherson talking to Kon 'Salami' Kontorinakis, extract from National Crime Authority (NCA) Elfin tape-recording transcripts, 1991.

Lenny 'Mr Big' McPherson, Branko 'Bronco' Balic, Kon 'Salami' Kontorinakis, 'Commando' Nick Constantin and finally myself, 'Commando' Jim.

That was the criminal line along which the Jim Beam whiskey contract "job" was passed down.

On other occasions, I had contracted 'Commandos' Nick and Fred - two Lebanese soldiers and bouncers that aided on jobs. Like myself both the men were serving Australian Army Special Forces Commandos from the 1st Commando Company, Middle Head, Sydney. The handful of Kings Cross commandos that interacted with the Sydney underworld, often assisted each other depending on where the jobs had originated. There were five or six Commandos including myself that I know of that had strayed or were enticed into secret lives of crime.

 

Jim Taousanis, martial arts expert and Army Reserve soldier, worked as an enforcer in Kings Cross in his early days. Picture: Supplied
Jim Taousanis, martial arts expert and Army Reserve soldier, worked as an enforcer in Kings Cross in his early days. Picture: Supplied

 

A renegade soldier is a fairly rare thing, but not an unexpected thing in the military units of the world and Australia. Soldiers stray from time to time because of the nature of the high-level training and their skills that seek an outlet. Throughout history, highly trained soldiers without a war and nothing to do, have always been a troubling issue for societies and politicians.

Since the era of gladiators, violent fight sports are one way of dealing with the idle soldier problem. In another way, modern NGO Post War Companies (PWC) and opportunists like 'Mr Big' McPherson and 'Salami' Kon search out to harness that trained violent power for their own devices and ends without the scruples that should ideally go with it.

During my time in Kings Cross, the 'Salami' mob's dangerous-assets recruitment-agency was expanding its operations with high value targets in its sights such as the Australian Commandos.

The 1st CDO Coy in Mosman, Middle Head at that time was an Army Reserve Unit with Regular Army SASR and SF Commando staff instructors. The troops were a diverse mix of double life soldiers. Some were from the Sydney Police Force, Police TRG & SWAT groups. The other soldiers had assorted civilian jobs. At that time in Australian military history, there were no full-time regular Commando units other than the SASR. All Commando soldiers except the training staff at Middle Head were highly committed Army Reserves.

 

Police mugshot of criminal and businessman Lennie McPherson.
Police mugshot of criminal and businessman Lennie McPherson.

 

“Mr Big” criminal Lennie McPherson leaves NSW Wood Royal Commission in 1995. Picture: Supplied
“Mr Big” criminal Lennie McPherson leaves NSW Wood Royal Commission in 1995. Picture: Supplied

 

For his legal protection, the methods that had worked well for 'Mr Big' McPherson across his 40-year crime career, hinged on the practice of not dealing directly with the enforcer or the hit man in the field. 'Mr Big' used a chain of command so that if anyone did ever talk, the evidence would be second or third hand. That hearsay evidence would then be rendered totally inadmissable in any Justice Court proceedings.

This time, some advanced technological circumstances changed the old practice. Electronic advances were encroaching on McPherson and his "old-school" world of crime. The National Crime Authority (NCA) electronic bugs and voice recordings were more sophisticated than ever and they had been well placed in 1990. According to the captured recordings, McPherson had received the operational advice about hearsay and chain of command from corrupt police, lawyers and career criminals alike. He was very well connected and it was in the interest of many high level 'sinners' to protect him.

Electronic sophistication did not stop advancing in the 1990s. In the short space of 30 years since the Jim Beam Whiskey assault, the electronic EMF advances have been fast and furious. The planet has been changed but the majority public are still kept in the void of a fake-reality yesteryear. Now in our modern electronic airwaves saturation world, the real organised criminal power can only come from the privileged high seats of official power that reside above the prying eyes and ears of spy satellites and EMF devices ("An Unauthorised Autobiography" by Julian Assange 2011, also reference Edward Snowden interviews, 2019).

 

Kentucky Importers Pty Ltd importers of Jim Beam subject of ordered bashing of executive in 1991. Picture: Supplied
Kentucky Importers Pty Ltd importers of Jim Beam subject of ordered bashing of executive in 1991. Picture: Supplied

 

Now and again when someone in an official seat of power takes a strong stance and insists on integrity, strange things happen. This Darron Burt Jim Beam whiskey company assault triggered one of those episodes. Someone with political power in New South Wales (NSW) had called for a clean-up and that, established the Federal NCA police secret tape recordings.

The recordings were about to detonate an anti-corruption bomb bigger than anyone could foresee or had accounted for. The 1991 Hilton Hotel gunfight between the corrupt NSW Armed Holdup Squad and myself became a secondary and more fearful trigger than the Burt assault. Over three decades would pass before any Australian with significant power could develop enough courage to look at the high political echelons of crime and blackmail. Although the NCA voice recordings had targeted the Burt Jim Beam whiskey affair, the secret tapes unexpectedly extended into the greater theatre of the Hilton gunfight and beyond. The recorded material regarding the Hilton gunfight proved so sensitive that it was never used in court, nor revealed publicly. Had the entirety of the tapes been revealed, even the international Jimmy Savile and Jeffrey Epstein style of paedophile connections of that day in Australia, would have been uncovered.

 

Club owner Kon Kontorinakis. Picture: Supplied
Club owner Kon Kontorinakis. Picture: Supplied

 

'Salami' Kon had given Commando Nick and myself a short briefing about Darron Burt. He was described as a business partner of Lennie 'Mr Big' McPherson, but the motive and the business details were not revealed to us. Our instructions were to "Break Darron's arm Jimmy, because he is an enemy of Lennie." As it turned out, Burt had a fallout with McPherson concerning a $26 million annual contract with a Jim Bean whisky company.

The representative of 'Mr Big's interests in the affair was his nephew Norman Foster, the owner of Kentucky Importers Pty Ltd as sole importer of Jim Bean whiskey to Australia until August 1990. According to the Court records and associated articles, Foster was a business partner of Burt inside the Kentucky Importers company. The two had a disagreement and Burt resigned with schemes to transplant the whisky deals towards his own interests in another company. Branching out, creating opposition, upsetting the legal and illegal interests, or the reputation of the hot-headed 'Mr Big' was something that he with his mob connections and corrupt lethal police backup, didn't take lightly to.

 

Kings Cross enforcer and commando now turned author Jim Taousanis in a prison yard in 1996. Picture: Supplied
Kings Cross enforcer and commando now turned author Jim Taousanis in a prison yard in 1996. Picture: Supplied

 

After receiving location details about Burt's routine movements, Commando Nick and I carried out the whisky contract stake-outs at two different locations for a while. With any 'job', the most obvious and easy traps are the workplace, and the home. Burt's "busy" work building was on the North Shore and his "quiet" home was in Haberfield, Sydney.

After the surveillance and contemplation on both locations for the Burt's job, Nick and I concluded that the most suitable place to break Burt's arm would be, as one Supreme Court Judge coined it, "Burt's backyard."

A little before dawn on a certain day, Nick and I jumped the Burt's home backyard fence. We pulled our balaclavas down and waited in the open-door garage for the Burt morning work routine to commence. We had arrived several hours early and time dragged inside the Burt garage. Visibility was poor, but when sunlight entered the environment the shaggy old rugged timber garage began to manifest its contents. There was Burt's shiny sedan, shelves with old tools, light building materials, and the accumulated clutter of odds and ends. In the waiting hours, my mind wandered attempting to connect clues about the motive for our "break-the-arm" contract. I was stirred when I noticed that the exposed timber roof rafters had some sugar cane stalks wove through. The stalks reminded me of a very recent trip that I had taken with one of McPherson's crime identity friends William 'Snowy' Rayner to the Queensland town of Bundaberg. Was there a connection? 'Snowy', and I had flown up in 'Snowy's private Cessna small aeroplane for a day trip. Bundaberg is the home of the famous rum distillery company that converts valuable sugarcane into a more precious concentration of alcoholic liquid. I was sent along with 'Snowy' by 'Salami' Kon firstly for the bodyguard function and secondly, because I was a flight student with a permit that could operate 'Snowy's plane if required. In Bundaberg, Snowy and some businessmen had a meeting at the Bundaberg Aviation Museum but placing myself at a bodyguard's distance on that occasion, I was not privy to their conversations.

 

Jim Taousanis leaves NSW Supreme Court in 1999 after being freed on bail when a jury failed to decide if he was responsible for 1991 murder of missing man Peter Mitris. Picture: News Corp
Jim Taousanis leaves NSW Supreme Court in 1999 after being freed on bail when a jury failed to decide if he was responsible for 1991 murder of missing man Peter Mitris. Picture: News Corp

 

Years later in the mid 1990s due to some extraordinary circumstances, I became a witness in the Burt assault case and from that point on, I was no longer party to the Court proceedings or evidence. Perhaps I should have it followed up, but once the case was concluded, I dropped all interest and focused on a different direction in life. For decades beyond the Courts and the assault, I still believed that the Foster/Burt alcohol affair involved the Australian Bundaberg Rum Company and not the American Jim Beam whisky. Such is the deceptive nature of jigsaws with missing pieces.

Burt made a noise as he approached, and I brought my concentration back to breaking his arm. He entered his Haberfield garage around 8:00am, and headed for the driver's door of his car. When he reached for the handle, I came out and hit him with a couple of punches. He staggered, regained his consciousness and fought back attempting to use a hammer from a garage tool shelf. During the wrestle, I manoeuvred his arm over my knee until I heard the humerus bone of his upper arm snap.

 

Jim Taousanis pictured at his gym in Scarborough, Queensland has written a book about his time in the Underbelly scene. Picture: Brad Fleet
Jim Taousanis pictured at his gym in Scarborough, Queensland has written a book about his time in the Underbelly scene. Picture: Brad Fleet

 

My mob-contracted assignment was over, and I quickly began to exit the garage leaving Darron Burt on the ground beside his car door. Running out of the garage I brushed close to the Burt backyard lawn where I saw Nick occupied in another struggle with a woman. It quickly ended when Nick slapped Mrs Burt to the ground. In 1995 during some NCA Courtroom hearings 'Commando' Nick Constantin testified that, "Jim slapped Mrs Burt." It was one of a series of fabricated evidence statements made by Nick from a witness box against me. Well, I couldn't be in two places at the same time, and contrary to Nick's version, that was not what Mrs Burt had said in her evidence at all. If it were the case that I had slapped Mrs Burt what then, was Nick doing at all? I did have fast reflexes back then and quick moves, but I didn't have some kind of built-in warp-drive. It hadn't been invented yet. I can only conclude that the Lennie McPherson's mob had rewarded Nick generously.

Anyways … Nick and I jumped the fence out of the yard at the same location that we had entered and found our way to the getaway car. The operation had gone smoothly and later 'Salami' Kon paid Nick the money. From memory, it was a low amount compared with the contract's true value but things are usually better understood in hindsight. Nevertheless, the money was significant enough to inspire the work at that particular point in time. It was more important for Nick and myself to take a contract that would move us upward into a bigger world of powerful criminals corrupt police contacts and closer to McPherson.

 

Club owner Kostas
Club owner Kostas "Con" Kontorinakis leaves the NSW Police Integrity Commission (PIC) in Sydney, in 1999, after denying conversations on tapes claiming he bribed police. Picture: Milan Scepanovic.

 

Just as it is with legitimate work, human nature generally seeks to climb the ranks. In crime, the upwards climb seemed desirable at first but then as with most power structures, disillusionment follows as the rot at the top reveals itself to be something less than the expectation. From the time of the Burt assault, the NCA provocations and the "street leaks" leading into the 1991 Hilton gunfight sped up with intensity and the 'Mr Big' McPherson mob, relationships all began to change. Shortly after the backyard whisky assault, the attitude between McPherson, 'Salami' Kon and myself began to sour over the drug dealer 'Styx' Kouroumalos and his protection money. At that time I did not know that McPherson was operating as a police informer selling out small crime operators for corrupt police credits to commit his own big, heavy crime with impunity.

Mr Big's close partner in organised crime, the highly connected baby-faced illegal casino boss George Freeman died in March 1990. Shortly after that and seemingly by coincidence, the Federal NCA Police dominoes began to fall. No-one in the mob and their corrupt state police contacts suspected that the NCA were tape recording the Burt conspiracy. The voice tape-recordings feedback came from the McPherson level down. At that historical time in Sydney just before the July 1991 Hilton gunfight and the consequent 1995 Wood Royal Commission into police corruption, gangsters and the NSW State police including the Armed Hold-up Squad were getting so out of hand that anyone could do almost anything as long as they paid the bribe.

 

Ibrahim brothers at the funeral of criminal Lennie McPherson held at All Saints Anglican Church, Hunters Hill in 1996.
Ibrahim brothers at the funeral of criminal Lennie McPherson held at All Saints Anglican Church, Hunters Hill in 1996.

 

The mob was running the show with leverage, and all but a very few were on the take. Headaches and problems for the crime establishment ascended when it was discovered that the NCA tapes contained much more material than had been expected. Even the NCA and the Wood Royal Commission developed problems once paedophilia sounded out in the Australian parliament and the Courts. The English Crown dispatched their own police Inspector Peter Ryan to take charge of the Wood Royal Commission investigations. From the beginning of my dealings with the NCA, an ex-Scotland Yard police Inspector was assigned to my case. More interesting events were to develop across the subsequent years.

"Underworld Commando - You were meant to be killed at the Hilton", Kindle e-Book and Amazon print on-demand on the life and crimes of Jim Taousanis. RRP $17.95

Originally published as 'F**kin break his arm': Mr Big's hit on Jim Beam boss


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