A last-ditch attempt by Victoria's Director of Public Prosecutions to confiscate the money made by murdering crime matriarch Judy Moran from the sale of her Ascot Vale house has been rejected by the High Court.
DPP John Champion has appointed senior counsel to seek leave to challenge the Victorian Court of Appeal's affirmation of Justice Lex Lasry's earlier conclusion that the Ormond Road house was not "tainted property".
The house was sold at auction in March last year while the jury was deliberating in Moran's murder trial into the fatal 2009 shooting of her brother-in-law, Des "Tuppence" Moran.
She was convicted of orchestrating the lunchtime murder at a busy Ascot Vale cafe and is now serving a maximum 26 years' jail.
The house sold for $1.07 million and Moran received more than $356,000. But the money remains held in trust by the Department of Justice's asset confiscation office as the legal fight into who should get the money continued – at taxpayers' expense.
Senior Crown Prosecutor Tom Gyorffy, SC, argued on Friday that the Court of Appeal erred when considering the nature of the property as part of the process of determining whether or not it was tainted – and the appeal judges were wrong to solely consider the manner in which the property was used in the commission of the crime.
All of the evidence combined made it tainted, he argued.
"That house was the equivalent of base camp at Mount Everest," he told the High Court.
Had Moran not owned the property, she would not have had the ability to finance the murder, and this fact alone should be sufficient to deem the property tainted, he argued.
The getaway car, a Ford Falcon Moran drove to and from the murder scene, was parked in the garage at the address following the murder, and clothing, disguises and the weapon used to kill her brother-in-law were found hidden in a safe at the house.
And Moran had used the property as security to obtain a $400,000 bank loan with which she bought several cars – one of which was given to hitman Geoffrey Armour as payment for carrying out the murder, he said.
Under the Confiscation Act, the state can seek forfeiture of property if its owner is convicted of an indictable offence and the court is satisfied the property is tainted in relation to the crime.
A tainted property is defined as "property that was used or was intended to be used in, or in connection with, the commission of the offence".
But following what was a brief hearing, and without Moran's lawyers uttering a word in her defence, the two High Court judges refused leave to appeal.
The DPP was ordered to pay court costs.