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   crisis management expression.

  

   `What's wrong? What's the matter?' Mendax asked.

  

   Galbally sighed before he spoke.

  

   `Prime Suspect has turned Crown witness against you.'

  

   There was a mistake. Mendax was sure of it. The whole thing was just

   one big mistake. Maybe Chettle and the DPP had misunderstood something

   Prime Suspect had said to them. Maybe Prime Suspect's lawyers had

   messed up. Whatever. There was definitely a mistake.

  

   At Galbally's office, Mendax had refused to believe Prime Suspect had

   really turned. Not until he saw a signed statement. That night he told

   a friend, `Well, we'll see. Maybe Chettle is just playing it up.'

  

   Chettle, however, was not just playing it up.

  

   There it was--a witness statement--in front of him. Signed by Prime

   Suspect.

  

   Mendax stood outside the courtroom at Melbourne Magistrates Court trying

   to reconcile two realities. In the first, there was one of Mendax's four

   or five closest friends. A friend with whom he had shared his deepest

   hacking secrets.  A friend he had been hanging out with only last week.

  

   In the other reality, a six-page statement signed by Prime Suspect and

   Ken Day at AFP Headquarters at 1.20 p.m. the day before. To compound

   matters, Mendax began wondering if Prime Suspect may have been

   speaking to the AFP for as long as six months.

  

   The two realities were spinning through his head, dancing around each

   other.

  

   When Galbally arrived at the court, Mendax took him to one side to go

   over the statement. From a damage-control perspective, it wasn't a

   complete disaster. Prime Suspect certainly hadn't gone in hard. He

   could have raised a number of matters, but didn't. Mendax had already

   admitted to most of the acts which formed the basis of his 31 charges

   in his police interview. And he had already told the police a good

   deal about his adventures in Telecom's telephone exchanges.

  

   However, Prime Suspect had elaborated on the Telecom break-ins in his

   statement. Telecom was owned by the government, meaning the court

   would view phreaking from their exchanges not as defrauding a company

   but as defrauding the Commonwealth. Had the DPP decided to lay those

   new charges--the Telecom charges--in February 1995 because Prime

   Suspect had given the AFP a draft Crown witness statement back then?

   Mendax began to suspect so. Nothing seemed beyond doubt any more.

  

   The immediate crisis was the committal hearing in the Melbourne

   Magistrates Court. There was no way Boris Kayser was now going to

   decimate their star witness, a NorTel information systems

   manager. Galbally would have to run a cross-examination himself--no easy

   task at short notice, given the highly complex technical aspects of the

   case.

  

   Inside the courtroom, as Mendax got settled, he saw Prime Suspect. He

   gave his former friend a hard, unblinking, intense stare. Prime