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Slain madam's daughter rejects cop report

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September 13, 2017

Bridget Shewring will testify at the inquest into her mother Shirley Finn.

The daughter of Perth brothel madam Shirley Finn is about to take the stand at the inquest into her mother's 1975 gangland-style murder.

Bridget Shewring, who has long campaigned for the inquest, was in the WA Coroner's Court when the inquest officially opened on Monday, accompanied by author Juliet Wills, who wrote the book Dirty Girl about the "state sanctioned" killing.

It will run far longer than originally scheduled after former police officer James Boland gave explosive evidence to a hearing in late August that was hastily arranged when he advised he was unable to attend this month.

He was questioned at length about information provided to him by a man named Keith Lewis, who he says claimed soon after Ms Finn's death that Sydney underworld figure Arthur "Neddy" Smith had killed her.

Lewis provided the information in exchange for police reducing charges against his boyfriend, Harold Stevens, for dropping bad cheques.

Mr Boland told the court Smith would have been paid $5000 or more by a man named Joe Martin, whose girlfriend Stella ran a Kalgoorlie brothel, to kill Ms Finn over their soured business partnership.

"I thought there was some credibility to what he (Lewis) was saying," Mr Boland said.

"I passed it on to a detective sergeant who I respected."

That turned out to be Don Hancock, who was killed in a car bombing in 2001.

"He told me at the time to just hang on for a second," Mr Boland said.

"At one stage, he said 'just don't do anything about it. Don't go any further with your aspect of it'.

"And that seemed fair enough to me that somebody else more senior would probably take it on and they may come and interview me later.

"Whatever they decided, that was up to them."

But no one asked Mr Boland about the information and he waited until long after Mr Hancock was dead when cold case reviews of the murder were under way to make phone calls, which got no response.

Mr Boland was also asked if he was aware of rumours in 1975 surrounding the involvement of former WA premier Ray O'Connor, who was then the police minister, and an officer investigating the murder, Bernie Johnson.

"The allegation was that Ray O'Connor was good friends with Bernie Johnson and they were involved in corrupt ventures together," Mr Boland said in a 2015 statement read out in court.

"Shirley was going to drop them in it unless they helped her with her tax problems."

Mr O'Connor, who was jailed for six months in 1995 as part of the WA Inc scandal and died in 2013 aged 86, denied ever meeting her.

Mr Boland was also asked if he shot Ms Finn.

"No. And that's a ridiculous question, quite truthfully," he said.

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