Cops’ $1m appeal for info on missing gangster
DETECTIVES have announced they need just a few more pieces in the jigsaw to figure out what happened to missing gangster Raphael Joseph.
Five months after cops sent excavators to dig up a rural property on the outskirts of Sydney looking for possible human remains of the drug kingpin, a $1 million reward is being offered for information about his suspected murder.
NSW Police say 37-year-old Mr Joseph was probably murdered four years ago by fellow drug dealers in a botched attempt to extract money from the international crime figure.
Mr Joseph was out with friends at Sydney's The Star on March 20, 2014 when he asked to be driven to Auburn McDonald's to "meet someone".
At the McDonald's, he asked friends to wait half an hour, but he was never seen again.
For several days in February this year, search crews, including the riot and bomb squads, combed a Putty Road property at Blaxland Ridge in The Hawkesbury region, 75km from Sydney, where Joseph's body could be buried.
Homicide detectives have previously said they know the identities of several people involved in the murder and the suspects should "expect a visit" in the near future.
"Detectives have been meticulously working through every aspect of Mr Joseph's life in order to piece together the circumstances surrounding his death," Homicide Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook told reporters.
"These inquiries, and information from the community, has given us a good idea of what happened after he got into the silver Commodore that night, but the puzzle is still missing a few pieces.
"This reward gives us an opportunity to appeal to those who may have otherwise been uninclined to talk to us to finally come forward."
He then detailed what police knew about the final moments in Mr Joseph's life.
"We know Mr Joseph left his Chiswick apartment in the early evening and dropped in at the home of an associate at Pyrmont, before having dinner with friends at a restaurant in the casino," he said.
"During dinner, he received a message on his encrypted BlackBerry and shortly after, left the casino to head to a meeting with known associates.
"Mr Joseph, who was being driven by a friend in his Mercedes Benz, stopped briefly at home before making his way to Dartbrook Road, Auburn, where he entered the back seat of the Commodore.
"We now know Mr Joseph was taken to a nearby home, where he was murdered. His body was then placed into a 44-gallon drum and placed into a white Toyota Hiace van and taken away for disposal."
NSW Police Minister, Troy Grant said he hopes the reward will help bring answers for Mr Joseph's family.
"In my experience, I know that people are often reluctant to assist police investigations into organised criminal activity - be that due to fear of retribution or incriminating themselves," Mr Grant said.
"The NSW Government is committed to providing police with the resources they need to solve crimes and provide justice for victims, and the rewards system is another part of that commitment.
"By offering this significant reward, we hope those who have yet to tell detectives what they know about Mr Joseph's disappearance will find courage to come forward."
- with wires