Donald Mackay (1933 – 1977) furniture store proprietor
Donald Mackay was a devout Christian, involved in Anglican and then in Methodist church activities. About 6.30 p.m. on Friday 15 July 1977 Mackay left the Hotel Griffith and vanished. His bloodstained vehicle was located seven hours later. The Premier Neville Wran subsequestly appointed Justice Philip Woodward royal commissioner to inquire into drug trafficking.
Donald Mackay, furniture store proprietor and anti-drugs campaigner, was born on 13 September 1933 at Griffith, New South Wales, third and youngest child of Australian-born parents Lennox William Mackay, house furnisher, and his wife Phyllis, née Roberts. The family moved to Sydney in 1943. On leaving Barker College, Hornsby, Don worked for furniture companies, studied accountancy and completed national-service training. In 1955 he returned to Griffith to help his brother run the family business.
At St Martin’s Anglican Church, Killara, on 6 April 1957 Mackay married Barbara Vincent Dearman, a physiotherapist. After ten years as an external student of the University of New England (B.A., 1969), he began to study law, attended Italian classes and took flying lessons; 6 ft 3½ ins (192 cm) tall and 15 stone (95 kg) in weight, he was an A-grade squash player and a keen jogger. Mackay was also a devout Christian, involved in Anglican and then in Methodist church activities. Secretary of the Griffith Pioneer Lodge committee, he founded the local branches of the Sub-Normal Children’s Welfare Association (later Challenge Foundation) and the Australian Birthright Movement. He was secretary, president and district governor of the Apex Club of Griffith.
Donald Mackay’s wife, wrote anonymously to the Area News in June 1974, questioning the justice of a decision in May when two local farmers received small fines for growing cannabis. Another letter, next February, carried her signature. Meanwhile, Mackay passed information to the Drug Squad in Sydney, thereby precipitating the raid on 10 November 1975 on a cannabis plantation at Coleambally; the police found the largest single crop yet discovered in Australia. The case did not come to court until 7 March 1977 when Mackay’s covert role may have been revealed. Disgusted with the lenient sentence, he launched a public campaign of reform. He wrote to the Area News on 23 March and organized a petition, signed by two thousand people, which was presented to State parliament in May.
About 6.30 p.m. on Friday 15 July 1977 Mackay left the Hotel Griffith and vanished. His bloodstained vehicle was located seven hours later in the hotel car park. Three spent .22 cartridges lay nearby. Public indignation at the failure of the police to find Mackay’s body led the premier Neville Wran to appoint Justice Philip Woodward royal commissioner to inquire into drug trafficking. He reported in 1979 that Mackay was murdered by a ‘hit man’ on behalf of the Griffith cell of N’Dranghita (The Honoured Society). In 1984 the local coroner found that Mackay died of ‘wilfully inflicted gunshot wounds’.
Complete biography : http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A150274b.htm
Shadow of shame: How the mafia got away with the murder of Donald Mackay
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