Sydney Morning Herald reporters

Jonathan Dart, Andrew Clennell and Edmund Tadros

March 15, 2008

THE former Aboriginal affairs minister Milton Orkopoulos was found guilty of 28 pedophilia and drug charges yesterday, but the woman who raised the alarm has been sacked by Parliament.

The Herald can reveal that Gillian Sneddon, Orkopoulos's former electorate officer in the Hunter seat of Swansea, who helped collect evidence from his office for police, had her employment terminated last month - the day she began to give evidence at the Orkopoulos trial.

She had been on stress leave and is fighting a workers' compensation claim against Parliament. The Premier, Morris Iemma, has said her situation is a matter for Parliament.

She told the Herald yesterday: "If I had have kept my mouth shut, it would have been covered up." The "treatment of me the whole way down the line, from the Parliament, from my colleagues, from Labor politicians, [has] been a disgrace".

She has been on workers' compensation since being locked out of the office in late 2006 while assisting police retrieve evidence in the case.

As Orkopoulos was convicted of abusing three teenage boys yesterday, the Opposition demanded to know what his Labor colleagues knew about the allegations before he was charged.

Orkopoulos led a sordid double life: in public he was a family man, a loyal Labor figure and conscientious MP. But he also smoked cannabis, used amphetamines, taught a teenage boy how to inject heroin and exchanged drugs and cash for sex with boys as young as 15.

Orkopoulos would rendezvous with the teenagers at parks, in bushland and, most often, at his Swansea electorate office late at night, and would offer them drugs. Once they were stoned, the 50-year-old performed oral and anal sex on two of the boys and indecently assaulted the third - buying their silence with cash, some of it electoral funds, as well as gifts and drugs.

Orkopoulos was found guilty of eight counts of having homosexual intercourse with a minor, 13 counts of supplying cannabis, four counts of supplying heroin, and three counts of indecent assault on a minor, related to plying young men with drugs and then having sex with them.

Awaiting the verdicts, Orkopoulos had paced outside the courtroom and complained about the lack of Italian coffee.

A sentencing hearing will begin on Thursday. The maximum sentence for the offence of having homosexual intercourse with a minor is 14 years.

The case promises to reverberate around Parliament for some time. The Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, said it beggared belief that more Labor Party people did not know there were allegations against Orkopoulos before he was charged.

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