Ask anyone who hung around the betting ring at Albion Park in the 80’s or 90’s, or at the Pacesetters night club at the trots after the last, about Denis Holbeck and they will all tell you one thing.
He’s a dodgy, no good, untrustworthy crook who’d rip off his own grandmother for $2 to put on a hot one in a boatie they would tell you.
If any of today’s dirty dozen (yes there is a terrific thirteen, but one’s a rat) knew what he’d been doing to them, they’d probably say exactly the same thing.
Ever heard of the mock auctions?
There used to be one in Elizabeth Street, Brisbane in the 70’s when I was a kid.
A bloke named Paul Meade ran it. He was a racing man, at the track every Saturday afternoon betting up a storm in untraceable bank notes. Dirty money of course, being washed. He was a small-time crim from Sydney who came up here as an unknown and within a year was living in one of the flashest houses at New Farm.
Brisbane connection to George Freeman and the mob you see.
Vince O’Dempsey, the bloke doing life for the McCulkin triple murders, and doing eternity in hell for the Whiskey Au Go Go job, even though he was never charged because he did it for dirty cops, used to work for Meade at the mock auctions (the mockies).
The go was that these sharpies would hold auctions selling rare repossessed good at knock down bargain basement prices, because the banks had said sell, sell, sell. At least that’s what they told the mugs anyway.
What really happened was that they would have one Rolex, and a box full of cheap Chinese knock offs. They’d put the real Rolex up and O’Dempsey or one of his criminal associates would bid to heaven for it and buy it for some crazy price that was heaps, but still only about a half what a real Rolex was worth.
O’Dempsey would then say in the loud voice ‘Hang on! I just want to get this checked by my jeweller before I pay, just to make sure its real’, and then he’d duck off around the corner in the direction of Ken Penfold’s diamond and watch shop on the corner of Edward and Adelaide Sts, but the second he was out of sight he’d stop and duck into an alleyway and have a quick smoke.
Vince didn’t need to go to Kenny’s, cos the jeweller was already on board, and he had a letter of authentication from Penfold on board.
While he was gone they would sell some stock standard item or other at the right price – soap, flannels, cigarette lighters, whatever – and then suddenly Vince would rush back waving his letter from Kenny Penfold around and showing everyone who would look, and shout out in a booming voice “Okay, I’m here to pay. Penfolds say its genuine (Penfold was the most respected jeweller in Brissy at that stage. He was also the State’s biggest fence).”
“Are there any more for sale? They’re a brilliant buy, I will take them all at the same price I paid for the first one!” Vince would shout, but the sharpie on the auction block would say ” Sorry Sir, but our instructions from the bank are that they must all be sole in individual lots by auction”.
Vince would blow up, but stay and buy another one at an even higher price. These were the first of the cheap knock-offs, and he’d of course never have to pay, but the rort got rolling, and after the second one he’d be telling everyone they were valued at XYZ (say $500) and it was the bargain of the century buying them for $300 like he just did. Then suddenly he’d start bidding on the third, and one of his mates would lift his wallet that he’d left hanging out the back of his pants pocket, and bolt, and Vince would start shouting “Pick Pocket! Thief! There’s 5 thousand bucks in there!” and chase him down the road, around the corner and out of sight.
From there he and his mate were off to the pub.
Meanwhile, back at the mockie the Sharpie would tell the crowd that it was a very unfortunate thing that had just happened to the gentleman, but that the show must go on, and so it did, and by the end of the day he would have sold fifty knock-off Rolexes he’d got for $2 a piece to the suckers for $300 each.
It was money for jam, especially when you had the Inspector in charge of the Fraud Squad on the payroll and anyone who went into Police HQ to complain would be told “Sorry sir, buyer beware, and if I can you a little tip let me advise you not to go back to the auctions and raise a fuss. They employ some very heavy criminal types to deal with complaints there, and I would hate to see a fine citizen like you get yourself into any trouble. Don’t worry though Sir, we have the scoundrels under surveillance, and we are going to put them all in prison. We just have to be patient. By the way, that’s a very nice Rolex you have there on your wrist. Just 30 seconds before you walked in we had a call from Penfolds jewellers reporting that a box full of them have just been stolen. Did you really get yours at the auction Sir? Really?”
That’s what Denis Holbeck did too.
He’d give the mug trainers from Central Queensland a red hot drench first up, and their horse would bolt in and they’d back it for all they had (about $100 usually), and within five minutes of them crossing the line the bloke who’d just had his first winner since Mary played netball for the Snake and apples would be on their knees and begging him for more.
Denis would tell them that everyone was after them at the moment, and supply was low and demand was high, but because they were such good blokes (or birds) and he liked them so much, he could sneak a couple aside for them if they were prepared to pay a little bit more.
They all did of course. You have the list.
The list full of suckers.
After the first one or two he was giving them drenches full of Berocca and Lemonade, bit they were none the wiser. When their horses wouldn’t win the next few times out and they’d complain to Denis, he’d tell him that it can’t turn a mule into Phar Lap, and say if you want to be like that I will just sell them to all the blokes down the road who have been waiting while I’ve been doing you a big favour and telling them I’d run out.
“No! No Denis!” they’d scream, and buy another dozen of the useless things from him.
And now here they all are, charged by the QRIC, bang to rights for it because the Commissioner’s got Denis’s account sheets that were seized under warrant in a raid, and facing huge fines or disqualifications that might just end their careers.
All for just one Rolex-style drench and thirty useless knock-offs.
I keep telling everyone who will listen that if you don’t know your history, you’re doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
I tell everyone not to cheat too, but no-one listens to me.
Wanna buy a bridge?
I’ve got quite a few to sell, and at real good prices too.
The owner was a rich old lady who died without a will.
All bridges must go.
Give me my mate Denis a ring for more info.