Once upon a time there was nothing the Australian media liked more than a good gangster story.
Now there’s nothing Australia’s media like more than a celebrity refugee.
Crime stories require resources and insider knowledge; feel good refugee stories fit easily into the government’s propaganda machine and require no skills at all.
So let’s tell the gangster’s story.
Of all the many peculiar stories thrown up by the Australian government’s slavish devotion to mass immigration and the theory of multiculturalism, the international criminal elements thus imported and the conflicts with the local milieu is almost entirely unreported.
But sometimes, even in the debilitated state of contemporary journalism, world’s collide — and make for ludicrously good stories, scandals from top to bottom.
And that’s exactly what happened back in 2010, when infamous Sydney identity Gerardo Mazzella, also known as Gerard Duncan, sought the services of celebrity refugee Dr Munjed Al Muderis for chronic back pain.
Muderis suggested surgery would help and performed hip arthroscopy on Gerardo Mazzella in March 2010.
Gerardo claimed that as a result of the operation, his pudendal nerve was crushed and he lost feeling in his penis.
Shortly to become a very famous penis indeed, while Dr Muderis was labelled a “penis killer”.
It is alleged that Gerardo’s brother Rodney Duncan attended the last appointment with him in September 2010, and told Muderis: “My brother lost his dick; I’m going to chop your dick off.”
The claims of threatening conduct are denied.
With each follow up appointment, it is alleged that Mr Mazzella became increasingly hostile and aggressive.
Normally a story about conflict between a doctor and a disaffected patient would create little interest.
But Gerardo and Muderis are no normal men.
The story of his trials as a refugee on Christmas Island conceals the fact that Dr Muderis grew up in a highly privileged Baghdad world, the scion of Iraq’s ruling class with close links to Saddam Hussein.
His father was a Supreme Court judge and he was classmates in high school with one of Saddam Hussein’s sons.
Gerardo, in contrast, grew up in the rough head suburbs of Western Sydney.
We were quite young when our minds began to turn to ways to make money.
We couldn’t wait to grow up, to be the gangsters we had idolized in the films we adored.
The suburb was known as Merrylands, and to this day is largely unremarkable. Except for the fact that many a crime story begins there.
It was full of Lebanese, Maltese and Italians, the then new face of Sydney’s ethnic mix. All of them, having arrived in the land of opportunity in the impoverished post-war era, were hell bent on improving their lot.
In Gerardo’s early years, nobody had ever heard of an Iraqi refugee, or even much idea of where the country was.
Now they know.
These are clashing immigrant tales.
And thereby hangs the story of how Gerardo’s penis spilled onto the nation’s newspapers, and in revenge how Muderis’s face was plastered in a large sign above a sex shop in Sydney’s red light district of Kings Cross.
A Hornet’s Nest
Dr Munjed Al Muderis is an ambassador for Red Cross Australia, Amnesty International, the UN Refugee Agency and International Settlement Services, and is a patron of the NSW Amputee Association. He has twice been nominated for the Australian of the Year.
But as well credentialed as he may be, including being the author of two books on his flight from Iraq and establishment of a new life, fast forward from 2010 to 2019 and that initial operation has evolved into a nightmare for both men.
As The Sydney Morning Herald recorded in April, Mr Mazzella, a man who “snubbed his nose” at the law, was continuing to defame a high-profile Sydney surgeon with claims a botched surgery had left his penis numb. A warrant was issued for his arrest and he will be jailed for at least 18 months when he is found, a court ruled.
In reality, Gerardo is not in the least bit hard to find.
It is only in recent days that he has taken down his Facebook page, which showed off for all to see his penchant for the handsome male prostitutes of Asia.
It’s more a question of whether or not the authorities want to find him.
Gerardo is problematic for a number of reasons.
For a start he has what some might say is a well earned reputation.
In the only in depth interview Gerardo has ever given to the mainstream media, he told A Sense of Place Magazine:
At the time I was a total nutcase.
I was feared because I was extremely violent, unpredictable
I just didn’t give a fuck.
Behind the sanitised image, Sydney is all about flash cash, connections and clandestine deals. Always has been.
Having a reputation for violence does you no harm whatsoever.
Gerardo learnt early on the value of a $5000 a day barrister.
I’ve got the traditional “rap sheet as long as your arm”, except mine reads, case dismissed, no prima facie case, case dismissed. And on they go, all 42 of them.
He is also openly gay, unusual in the machismo drenched world in which he operated for so long; adding to the drama, theatricality, pathos and his sense of being persecuted.
Not only is Gerardo likely to be extremely high maintenance if arrested, he is also living in a part of the world where the only people in jail are those who cannot afford to buy their way out.
And he is well connected.
You want to party all night? No problem.
It is Gerard’s association with infamous Sydney underworld figure John Ibrahim and exactly which whistles he might be prepared to blow that could concern authorities.
John Ibrahim, who has owned or managed more than 40 of Sydney’s venues, has reportedly had hundreds of intelligence reports written about him by New South Wales and federal police as well as the Australian Intelligence Crime Commission.
As the book makes very clear, Ibrahim’s business interests made their millions not just under the eye of but with the cooperation of members of the NSW Police happy to share in the bounty.
A thing about bribes: they bind both parties into a cloak of secrecy.
In my occupation, I inevitably cross paths with drug dealers, straight cops, crooked cops, crime syndicates, stand over guys, kids targeting me with drive by shootings, and plastic gangsters who want what I’ve got, only without working for it.
Consider this a cautionary tale. You young blokes, especially, might think you want my life. But, as you will read, unless you are prepared to earn it — literally, with blood, sweat and tears — good luck. And either way, you might just end up dead. Or worse.
Anyone who has followed the history of Sydney’s inner-city demimonde through the early millennial period knows just how remarkably easy it was to buy ecstasy on Oxford Street, Sydney’s central gay strip, and of a man and his runners who were brazenly selling the party drug, moving tens of thousands of pills every weekend.
It is a piece of Sydney history some might definitely prefer remained in the past.
The ready availability of party drugs coincided with the ballooning of Sydney’s nightclub scene, particularly with the club Arq, which Ibrahim purchased.
Gerardo recalls that at the trade’s peak there were more than 30 runners working the strip.
The sales began in 2004 and ended, many many millions of dollars later, in 2010.
The Sydney gay market is massive.
It peaked with dozens of runners up and down Sydney’s gay strip working the bars, discos and gay haunts.
I knew a lot of the drug scene from years ago; and wanted to get involved in it.
It stopped in 2010. I felt like I just got out in time, 100 percent.
We had twelve phones. Every two weeks in the bin. New Sim cards. Everything. In the end I didn’t have to work; it ran itself.
I couldn’t carry a wallet because the money wouldn’t fit into it. I carried a red polka dot purse.
Bring On The Rage
Every dissatisfied litigant begins somewhere.
Tens of thousands of dollars disappeared into the pockets of lawyers as Gerardo pursued his medical negligence case through the appropriate channels, first through the Health Care Complaints Commission and then through the courts, ending up in the NSW Supreme Court.
Unless you are extremely wealthy, no normal litigant can afford to pursue their case through the legal system or to take on the well funded lawyers of medical indemnity insurance companies.
In Australia all doctors are legally obliged to hold such insurance.
Gerardo is unusual in that he pursued his case all the way to the Supreme Court.
In a battle of experts Mr Mazzella is particularly aggrieved that the ones who supported his case were ignored while the evidence of the doctor’s experts claiming there was no evidence of a loss of sensation were accepted by the courts.
After much legal pontification about the importance of a penis to a gay man Gerardo lost a NSW Supreme Court defamation case in 2017.
Dr Muderis was awarded a $480,000 payout, one of the highest in Australian legal history. It is a penalty Gerardo has so far shown no inclination to pay.
It is alleged that Gerardo had suggested he knew where Al Muderis’ wife worked and where his children went to school, adding that “we can get to them”. It is also alleged that Mr Mazzella sent photos of himself holding a semi-automatic rifle.
He tattooed the number Muderis was given at the Curtis Immigration Detention Centre — 982 — on his neck.
Dr Al Muderis took out an Apprehended Violence order against Gerardo, for which he received a suspended sentence in prison of four months, but that didn’t deter him.
He went online.
Mr Mazzella and his brother Mr Duncan created a website with the surgeon’s name in the web address and posted videos in which they referred to Al Muderis as a “butcher” and, according to the Supreme Court NSW documents, suggested he was unethical, arrogant, and had a reckless disregard for human life.
The brothers purchased Google ads to ensure the website displayed prominently in any searches for Al Muderis. They used several different social media sites to post defamatory comments, such as Facebook, You Tube, Vimeo, Video Bash, Internet Archive, Ru Tube, Daily Motion and Pinterest.
A website hosted in China was easily accessible until recent days.
The entire drama has reportedly been the subject of considerable gossip within the medical profession. Dr Muderis says he has overheard comments in the lunchroom about the websites: “In the medical community there is also the good and the bad. They are humans as well, some were supportive, and some were not.”
The Australian Medical Association reports that when Mr Mazzella plastered Norwest Private Hospital with leaflets and banners denouncing Al Muderis, the hospital administration directed staff to collect and bin the defamatory materials. They also used their security staff to protect Al Muderis.
Unfortunately, the doctor says he didn’t receive the same level of support from another hospital he worked for, and Mr Mazzella was allowed to freely distribute his materials.
Let’s Go Shopping
Sex shops play a big part in this story for good reason.
They are, in effect, the last remnants of a bygone era.
Which goes someway to explaining how Dr Al Muderis got his name plastered above the premises of The Pleasure Den.
In 2014 the NSW conservative government, which has a well earned reputation for corporate cronyism, passed the so-called “lockout laws”. These laws meant clubs could not admit anyone after 1.30am, costs hundreds of jobs and spelt the death knell of Sydney’s once colourful inner-city nightlife.
The government claimed the laws were to prevent alcohol fuelled violence. Few believed it.
Cynics, including Gerardo and Ibrahim, all believe the laws were about another Sydney obsession altogether, real estate.
With bars, clubs closed and bohemian characters swept from the streets, the value of real estate in inner-Sydney soared.
Ibrahim told the author:
I am retired. I want to stay that way. I have had my day. It is over.
Kings Cross was finished the day they brought in the 1.30 lockouts. The Cross will never be the same again. A page of time has finished.
Ironically the lockout laws have benefited the sex shops. Punters out for a night on the town find themselves with nowhere to go, and hence the traffic of the shops has increased.
In 2017, Gerardo woke to the unpleasant news that The Pleasure Den, which is literally in the centre of the red light district, was being raided.
A former town planner with the Sydney City Council as well as a lawyer are on a 24-hour retainer for just such an eventuality.
Believing the raid to be part of a vendetta against him, the news desk at leading Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph was promptly contacted.
The city’s sex shops had not been raided for some years, and the paper dispatched a photographer to the unfolding scene.
Who actually owns Sydney’s sex shops, these remnants of a tatty, licentious, underworld past, is of course entirely a matter of conjecture.
On his website Mr Mazzella says the newspaper mistakenly reported him as the owner of The Pleasure Den, information which was rapidly corrected.
But it was enough for Dr Muderis’s receivers to move in, carting away hundreds of sex toys.
The joke became: “What on Earth is the good Muslim doctor going to do with a giant double ended purple rubber dildo? Who exactly is he going to sell it to?”
As a consequence The Pleasure Den became the latest in a string of venue closures in what was once an entertainment district, another notch for property developers and the Big End of town.
Gerardo’s website records:
It should be noted that Gerardo was an employee of these shops and does not depend on their income, nor was he ever the owner of them. They are meaningless to him.
The receivers took small amount of retail sex toys in an attempt to recoup $480 000 that is owed to Dr Al Muderis for the alleged defamation caused by Gerardo Mazzella who clearly has nothing better to do then torment this poor Doctor???
The reality is that nobody would run a website for eight years if they had not felt like they had been wronged, moreover if they had not had numerous emails and or telephone calls from other patients who all so feel they have been wronged.
There is clear evidence i.e multiple medical reports relating to the damage Gerardo alleges to have suffered. It is the opinion of other Australian Doctors that in relation to Gerardo’s Surgery Dr Al Muderis was negligent. These reports are on this website.
It has been a long fight for Justice but most have an obligation as a human being and or a child of “God”, whichever way you want to say it, to stand up and be a voice for the weaker , sick and those who suffer pain and damage as a result of alleged sub standard surgery.
It should be noted to sell such a small amount of sex toys would yield very little money, if any at all.
This Doctor is clearly mistaken and his efforts are fruitless, in the meantime we will continue to meet and locate others who are not pleased or feel they have suffered while under the knife with Doctor Al Muderis.
THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE
And There It Unquietly Rests
Courts are a blunt instrument of social control used primarily by the ruling elites; nowhere more so than in Australia.
Anyone who expects fairness and due process is barking up the wrong tree.
Australian courts and tribunals almost invariably back the professions against a member of the public, no matter how strong their case or how many years they have spent preparing for their day in court.
Whether or not this is the case in Gerardo versus Muderis is difficult to determine and depends upon which legal armory you are wielding. Certainly there are expert opinions backing both sides of the argument, and the court has chosen the doctor’s side.
Gerardo feels thoroughly aggrieved; claims to have lost his dick, had his businesses disrupted and his family impacted. And his experts ignored.
He legitimately fears that his phone is tapped and he is under surveillance; and feels highly pressurised. He is drinking heavily, spends his time listening to schmaltzy love songs in an apartment in Asia and is showing definite signs of suicidal ideation.
A member of Sydney’s underworld probably does not cut a very sympathetic figure.
But one of the scions of Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime might not normally cut a very sympathetic figure either; except when, in the inverse world of refugee victimhood, he pays a people smuggler, lands on Australia’s fatal shores and in a few short years becomes a national treasure nominated for Australian of the Year.
Everybody involved has been damaged by this case.
“At some stage I was considering leaving the country and operating abroad,” Muderis told the Australian Medical Association, adding that the situation has even affected his decision about buying a house. “I am living in a flat that is secure because I fear for the safety of my family.
“I believe strongly that the vast majority of people are good. There’s goodness in everybody and there are a very small minority of bad people. Unfortunately, I was unlucky to deal with one person that is genuinely a bad person.”
Journalists often encounter obsessive litigants whose cases have dragged through the courts for years, sometimes decades, utterly convinced of their own rectitude and the correctness of their case. Whether the courts recognise it or not, at the origin of these protracted disputes one often finds an original injustice.
Whether that is the case with Gerardo V Muderis is for others to decide.
As another day passes, beer can in hand, somewhere in Asia Gerardo is listening to “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, wondering whether to go to the gym, “a girl has to make an effort”, as he would say, and trying to decide whether to invite over one of his favourites.
In Sydney, Muderis, now a multi-millionaire, surrounded by his family, is contemplating his next promotional interview, his expensive new yacht bobbing in the harbour; and telling anyone who will listen he wants to give back to a country which has given him so much.
Both men, in their very different ways, are lucky to be alive.