Phuong Ngo

Phuong Ngo
Phuong Ngo
Born 1958
South Vietnam
Motive Political reasons [1]
Conviction(s) Murder
Penalty Life imprisonment
Status Incarcerated
Occupation Businessman, politician

Phuong Canh Ngo (Vietnamese: Ngô Cảnh Phương) (born 1958) was convicted of ordering the killing of Australian MP John Newman on 5 September 1994, a crime which has been described as Australia's first political assassination.[2]

Ngo was born in South Vietnam and escaped to Australia as a refugee following the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War. He joined the Australian Labor Party and was elected to the Fairfield Council.

He was arrested on 13 March 1998, and following two mistrials, was again tried and then convicted by a jury in the state of New South Wales on 29 June 2001.[3] The High Court of Australia refused special leave to hear an appeal in May 2004. Two of Ngo's co-accused conspirators, David Dinh and Tu Quang Dao were acquitted by the same jury.

A number of Phuong Ngo's supporters have stated that he was convicted on flimsy evidence. As a City Councillor for Fairfield in New South Wales, Ngo had worked to help members of the Vietnamese community and led the development of a new community centre. He was a prominent leader in the Vietnamese Catholic community, which held prayer services for him in the hope that he would be acquitted of the murder. However, almost 300 leaders in the Vietnamese community signed a petition to the Supreme Court requesting that Ngo be denied bail.[4]

Equally, there were also rumours that Ngo was involved in running a narcotics operation. In an enquiry after Newman's death, but prior to charges being laid, the inquiry heard evidence that the victim considered the Mekong Club, a Vietnamese social club that Ngo ran in Cabramatta to be a "gambling den".[3]

The prosecution in Ngo's case claimed that John Newman was a political rival of Ngo in that Ngo wanted his seat in Parliament. However, senior Australian Labor Party figures including former General Secretary John Della Bosca swore on oath that Ngo had in fact strong support for another seat, in the Legislative Council.[citation needed]

An inquiry was launched into the conviction of Phuong Ngo on 6 June 2008, by order of Chief Justice James Spigelman of the New South Wales Supreme Court. The inquiry was overseen by former and Acting District Court judge, David Patten, and addressed several concerns raised as to the validity of the original conviction.[5] On 17 April 2009 Patten ruled that the original conviction was sound.[6]


  1. ^ Dunford J (26 November 2001). "R v Ngo [2001 NSWSC 1021 (14 November 2001)"]. Retrieved 2009-04-17. 
  2. ^ "Supermax", Four Corners, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  3. ^ a b "Ngo found guilty of Newman assassination", Lateline, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Inquiry called into assassination conviction", ABC News, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  6. ^ Jacobsen, Geesche (17 April 2009). "Ngo did mastermind MP's murder: inquiry". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2009-04-17. 

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