18 November 2022

Griffith Wars author donates 50-year life works on mafia crime to Charles Sturt University

| Oliver Jacques
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Terry Jones (right) with crime scene photographer Max Roberts and a copy of The Griffith Wars

Terry Jones (right) with crime scene photographer Max Roberts and a copy of The Griffith Wars. Photo: Terry Jones, Facebook.

A former Griffith-based newspaper editor who spent half a century investigating mafia activity in Australia has decided to gift his life works to Charles Sturt University’s (CSU) Regional Archives – a repository that has been collecting archival material from the region since 1973.

Terry Jones plans to hand over his 10,000-page collection of notes, court documents, photos, news articles and other papers that make up what he calls the ‘Griffith Diaries’. Much of this material may soon be accessible to journalism students, researchers, media and the general public via CSU’s facilities.

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Mr Jones’ research was used to write the controversial 2017 book The Griffith Wars: The Powerful True Story of Donald Mackay’s Murder and the Town That Stood Up to the Mafia, which he co-authored with established true crime writer Tom Gilling.

“The Griffith Diaries are the story of a lifetime and a lifetime of stories that needed a home … I have boxes of files and memory sticks that I will give to the university,” Mr Jones said.

“The diaries were started by June Webster, the former manager of the newspaper. We assembled a lot of information on the Calabrian Mafia and their activities … it will be very useful to the [CSU] school of journalism, certainly for anyone who does podcasts and the like … there are a lot of official documents that you would otherwise have to pay hundreds of dollars to access.”

Mr Jones’ lived in Griffith in the 1970s and 1980s, where he edited the newspapers The Griffith Times and The Area News. He wrote a number of articles on the illegal drug trade and alleged mafia crimes.

His research has been in demand ever since the publication of his book. In October, the former editor met with prominent journalists Liz Hayes and Kate McClymont, to show them the material he has collected. The pair may use his research for a future episode of the Channel Nine TV show Under Investigation, which chronicles various unsolved crimes and mysteries.

“I spent four hours with them in Sydney … I signed a copy of my book for Liz,” Mr Jones said.

Liz Hayes, Terry Jones and Kate McClymont go through Terry's work

Liz Hayes, Terry Jones and Kate McClymont go through Terry’s work. Photo: Terry Jones, Facebook.

The Griffith Wars tells the story of the disappearance of furniture salesman and politician Don Mackay in 1977, believed to be the victim of Australia’s first ever political assassination. The book canvasses theories on alleged mafia involvement in the murder of Mr Mackay, who was an outspoken critic of the illegal drug trade.

“Don was very concerned about the drug trade. He was worried not only about kids taking drugs but also that the whole Griffith economy would be undermined by the proceeds of crime money.

“We detailed the activity of the Concerned Citizens of Griffith, their story hadn’t really been told … they were like a neighbourhood watch group who stood up to the might of the Calabrian Mafia.”

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Mr Jones said there was a lot more information in his diaries that hadn’t yet seen the light of day. Before his full volume of documents can be transferred to the university, he says he has to fill out what’s called a schedule of records, listing each one of his documents. He is hopeful his work will make its way to the archives by early 2023.

A CSU spokeswoman said: “The first stage is for him to do a list of everything he has and we can go from there … we will see what we want and what needs to be done in terms of privacy.”

The Griffith Wars is available to purchase online and in most bookshops.

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