Underbelly 3: A tale of Wollongong's darkest hour

By Jodie Minus
Updated November 5 2012 - 9:41am, first published June 3 2009 - 12:41am
Former Wollongong lord mayor Frank Arkell is arrested in 1997. There is speculation the city's past will be featured in series three of TV drama Underbelly.
Former Wollongong mayor Tony Bevan, left, and Former Wollongong lord mayor Frank Arkell

The next series of Underbelly, to focus on a dark period in the state's history during the Wood Royal Commission, is likely to bring back grim memories that many in the Illawarra would rather forget.Premier Nathan Rees yesterday announced Underbelly III would be set during the 1994 to 1997 commission that lifted the lid on corruption in the NSW police force and uncovered a web of paedophiles.Mr Rees said he lured the producers to shoot in Sydney using incentives under the Film and Television Industry Attraction Fund, which provides rebates for film-makers."The third instalment of the highly successful Underbelly series will start pre-production (later this month) with filming scheduled from August to December," Mr Rees said."It creates 170 jobs in production and post-production, helping to contribute to NSW's creative sector."The producers refused to say yesterday whether filming would take place in Wollongong or which characters would be included in the storyline. Watch a promo for Underbelly: A Tale of two CitiesHowever, it is likely many of the Illawarra figures who played a role in the commission will also feature in the 13-part series, expected to air next year.Eight high-profile Illawarra men were named as paedophiles during the commission, which effectively ruined their public lives (one was murdered, three committed suicide). Many of the young victims also committed suicide. None of the others will ever be able to leave behind their memories of abuse and violence.It is doubtful the producers could ignore former Wollongong mayor Tony Bevan, aka Commander Hook, said to be the Mr Big of paedophile operations in the state with a network of men reaching into all facets of the community. Bevan allegedly connected with boys through his real estate business and job with the Wollongong Aerial Patrol, later giving them small gifts and rewards for sex. Nor could they ignore the brutal murder of another former Wollongong lord mayor, Frank Arkell.His death on June 26, 1998, was the climactic moment that marked the end of the commission and occurred just months before he was due to stand trial on sex charges involving two men. Others named included Brian Tobin, Tom Gaun, Peter Foretic, Michael Evans and Peter Comensoli, as well as a West Dapto farm owner code-named W17.