Donald Mackay was a standup citizen.
He and his wife Barbara were active members of the community of Griffith, NSW. They were members of the Uniting Church. They directed musicals for young children. And they ran a local furniture business called Mackay’s Furniture.
In 1977, Donald Mackay stood for parliament as a Liberal Candidate for the seat of Riverina. He was concerned about growing marijuana trade in the area. He wanted to clean up Griffith, and he tipped the cops off about two huge marijuana crops in the area, which led to several arrests, and four men of Italian descent being convicted on Mackay’s information.
Then one night, on July 15th, 1977, Donald Mackay was having drinks with friends in a hotel.
And he was never seen again.
On his van were blood stains. On the ground nearby, drag marks, hair, and three spent .22 calibre cartridges.
His body has never been found.
Donald Mackay was Australia's first political assassination.
Keith Moor is a veteran investigative journalist and told the Australian True Crime podcast it's common knowledge that the Calabrian mafia ordered a hit on Mackay as a "business decision".
"They decided he had to go". he said.
The author of Crims in Grass Castles details the murky world of the Calabrian mafia in NSW, the corrupt links to local politicians and cops, and what happened when, many years later, he landed in the town of Griffith to investigate the case and was set upon by henchman.
It's an astonishing tale detailing the true Underbelly of Australia's connection to the Italian Mafia, a power base which Moor says still exists today.
Listen to the full episode here: