One of Australia’s most notorious cops, Roger Rogerson, has been sentenced to life for murder

Roger Rogerson after his arrest for the murder of Jamie Gao. Picture Craig Greenhill/Getty Images

Two former New South Wales policemen, Roger Rogerson, 75, and Glen McNamara, 57, have received life sentences for the 2014 murder of 20-year-old student Jamie Gao.

Rogerson, a previously twice-jailed former NSW detective-sergeant, and fellow detective McNamara, also received 12 years each for stealing the drugs Gao planned to sell them – 2.78 kg of methylamphetamine (ice), in a deal worth up to $700,000 – on a charge of supplying a prohibited drug.

Gao was shot dead at a southern Sydney storage facility on May 20, 2014. His body dumped in the sea from McNamara’s fishing boat the following day. The body was found, wrapped in a tarpaulin, floating off Cronulla, by fishermen six days after his death. Rogerson was arrested at his home a week after the murder.

The two former policeman blamed each other for Gao’s death during the four month trial earlier this year. They both denied firing the fatal shots. A jury took a week to find them guilty in June. CCTV footage showed McNamara entering the shed on the day of Gao’s death, followed by Rogerson a few minutes later.

While claiming Rogerson shot Gao, McNamara said during the trial that he subsequently acted under duress, and was blackmailed and threatened by Rogerson to help dispose of the body.

Supreme Court justice Geoffrey Bellew said during sentencing today that there was insufficient evidence to back his claim.

“I am not satisfied that duress is a mitigating factor in the case of McNamara,” he said.

McNamara had met with Gao 27 times before his death and claimed it was for a book he was writing about Asian crime gangs.

In handing down the verdict today, justice Bellew said he could not tell beyond reasonable doubt who had pulled the trigger, although gunshot residue was found on Rogerson’s clothes, but he was certain “the deceased was executed in cold blood, just as the offenders had planned”.

“The joint criminal enterprise to which each offender was a party was extensive in its planning, brutal in its execution, and callous in its aftermath,” Bellew said during the sentencing, which was broadcast live.

Justice Bellew said “the offenders were overcome by greed”.

“You are sentenced to a term of life in prison,” he told both convicted murderers.

After being involved in a number of high profile fatal shootings of criminals, Rogerson was dismissed from the NSW police in 1986. His exploits were later documented in the TV series Blue Murder, played by Richard Roxburgh. The former cop published an autobiography, The Dark Side, in 2009.

Rogerson was convicted for perverting the course of justice over $110,000 bank deposit under a false name and spent nearly four years in jail in the early 90s. He returned to prison again in 2005 for lying to the 1999 Police Integrity Commission, but was released after serving 12 months of his 2.5 year sentence.

This latest trial was not the first time Rogerson had faced court charged with murder. It was the first time the former detective has been found guilty.