892 Days from Arrest to Aquittal

Day one was Sunday 6th December 2015. After being at Victoria Market with my wife and two youngest children, I was on my way home driving through North Melbourne. What I didn’t know was that me and my family had been followed for about two hours by undercover police as we strolled through Victoria Market.

My family was followed by two unmarked police cars with officers of Victorian and Federal Police attached to the Heracles Taskforce. I was pulled over and arrested in a side street of North Melbourne in front of my family. My children were crying and distraught – it was many days later, somewhere in the 892, that we found out one of our children was suffering post-traumatic stress.

Day one for Shaun Reardon was the same, arrested at his home in front of his family.

We were both charged with blackmail, and that was the start of an 892 day journey for us and our families.


It came out in our court case, as the charges were dismissed on day 892, that it was a politically motivated witch-hunt. 

A conspiracy was revealed, with the involvement of the ACCC, the Freehills law firm, the Dyson Heydon anti-union Royal Commission (TURC), the Victorian Napthine Liberal Government, Tony Abbott’s office and senior federal Liberal Party members.

In just one aspect of the conspiracy, the two Boral managers together with Freehills had made drafts of their statements before they got it right. One of them made 18 draft statements and the other one took 41 drafts. That probably should’ve been notified to the Guinness Book of Records!  What that meant is they kept changing their statements until they were good enough for charges. They were still wrong. 

In a dramatic turn during the committal hearing, the Director of Public Prosecutions, after seeing how bad the case was, decided to drop the charges. 

Remember the statistics show only 5% of cases are won at the committal stage, which goes to show how bad their case was.

Our privacy was invaded. Every phone conversation was recorded and we were able, at the Magistrates request, to obtain the affidavits that the Federal Police had made to get the phone intercepts. The evidence that they used was absolutely disgusting and false.


Just think for a moment, when you hear what’s happening in the Banking Royal Commission: these companies have driven people to take their own lives, they’ve charged fees to dead people and the Commonwealth Bank has admitted to 1500 criminal charges.

We’ve seen Priests that have ruined peoples lives with child abuse, or covered up the abuse of children. None of them were arrested in the way that me and Shaun were.

Judges have little to say about the big banks level of criminality – 1500 charges for CBA, money laundering, allowing funding for terrorists, charging fees for no services. There’s no strong comments against companies like Grocon who took three innocent lives or about priests covering up child abuse. They have plenty to say about the CFMEU though – as we do our jobs preserving life.

Justice Tracey, a well known union-hater who was lead prosecutor for the anti-union Cole Royal Commission, has plenty to say about the CFMEU. Well when people like that criticise us we take it as a compliment. Thank God he’s now retired, good riddance. My mum said the more you touch shit the more it stinks.


We now have the ACCC working hand-in-hand with the ABCC on the anti-union agenda of their political masters in the Liberal Party. ABCC inspectors have moved over to the ACCC, a group that is supposed to represent consumers – that’s us! They don’t do anything about petrol prices going up 20c for the long weekend, they think unions are the problem. Their attacks show they’re just another political attack dog.

Fighting for justice in court, unless it’s a jury, rarely gets us justice.

Our 1st priority is our members and we’ll keep fighting for you no matter what.


On a lighter note, you’ll find in this magazine a Members Survey. We are gearing up for another EBA and it’s important you have your say. 

You pay our wages and it’s your future – please fill out the survey and send it back in the postage-paid envelope.

The Members Survey is completely confidential, it can’t be traced back to you, so please make sure you fill it out and send it in. It’s your chance to tell us what you think and guide the next EBA.


I hope you enjoy the stickers here in the magazine – wear them on your hat and on your car with pride. We are the strong union that we are because of you, our members.

Obviously I’m hoping for a Richmond win in the finals again this year, but good luck to your team. Please stay safe, don’t drink and drive, and I look forward to hearing from you in the Members Survey.

John Setka