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By Chip Le Grand and Tammy Mills
Psychiatric and psychological reports released by the Royal Commission into Police Informants on Monday reveal the defence barrister who once enjoyed the company of hard bitten cops and notorious crooks is living in social isolation, having lost her taste for food, her passion for sex and all sense of self worth.
According to the results of a questionnaire used by physicians to treat depressive patients, Ms Gobbo is devoid of energy and interests and believes her future is hopeless and will only get worse. Diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety and debilitating nerve pain, she has trouble sleeping, cannot concentrate, cries daily and lives in a state of fear.
In her questionnaire responses, Ms Gobbo accepts no responsibility for her predicament, saying she doesn’t feel “particularly guilty’’ but that she feels she is being punished.
A psychiatrist who has treated Ms Gobbo since April said her condition had deteriorated despite the prescription of a more powerful antidepressant [or perhaps because of? – SSRI Ed.] and she was at risk of psychotic breakdown.
“The psychiatric disorder(s) have been associated with crippling physiological symptoms of loss of energy, disruptive sleep, irritability, loss of appetite, concentration problem and fatigue in addition to the anhedonia and loss of self worth,’’ the doctor wrote on September 18.
“I conclude we are at a stage of therapeutic nihilism.”
The assessment of Ms Gobbo’s mental health, contained in redacted correspondence between her treating physicians and lawyers, was released as Commissioner Margaret McMurdo considers whether to compel Ms Gobbo to testify.
Ms Gobbo, who is being represented in the commission by a legal team paid for by taxpayers, was served seven months ago with a notice to attend the hearings. She been asked to provide a sworn statement by November 18.
The unanimous view among Ms Gobbo’s specialists is that her ailments are genuine and she is not fit to appear before the royal commission. Ms McMurdo last week said while she accepted Ms Gobbo was mentally unwell, she was not convinced this should excuse her from testifying.
“I’m not presently persuaded she has demonstrated a reasonable excuse for failing to attend before this royal commission,” Ms McMurdo said.
Ms McMurdo said the inquiry has “afforded her every consideration”, including allowing her to give evidence by telephone and in short bursts, limiting the length and nature of the cross-examination.
At the height of her career, Ms Gobbo was the confidante of drug baron Tony Mokbel, underworld killer Carl Williams, hitman Andrew Veniamin and a supporting cast of crooks, some of whom, with her assistance, turned supergrass witnesses at the end of the gangland war. At the same time, she was leading a secret, double life as Informer 3838, the “glittering prize” of Victoria Police.
The material provided to the royal commission by Ms Gobbo’s lawyers includes reports from multiple psychiatrists and psychologists.
A psychologist who treated Ms Gobbo for eight years said her symptoms were consistent with major depressive disorder, pain disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. “Ms Gobbo was very angry at Victoria Police, desperate and hopeless,’’ the psychologist said.