From a storied police career spanning more than three decades, high-profile former homicide detective Gary Jubelin remembers a Wollongong crime scene as one of the worst he's seen. Only there was no crime, in the end.
The home was bloody. The walls were covered in claret handprints, seeming to show the final struggle of the victim, who lay bound and lifeless.
"It still sticks with me ... it was one of the most horrific crime scenes I'd ever seen," Jubelin told the Mercury.
"[The deceased] had cords wrapped around his neck; I assumed straight away it was a murder. But the further we investigated, we realised it was natural causes."
The man has suffered a medical episode - a ruptured aorta. He was trying to phone triple-0 but in his agonised writhing had become entangled in benign household cord.
Jubelin, who led the investigation into the disappearance of three-year-old William Tyrrell before he shockingly quit the Force in 2019 over misconduct allegations, is used to finding things not as they seem.
In the midst of his reinvention from grim-faced detective to open-book media personality, Jubelin is preparing to take his top 10-ranking true crime podcast, I Catch Killers, on the road.
The tour will include a show at Anita's Theatre on March 19. Like the podcast, it will take a question-and-answer format, with Logie-winning actor and long-time friend Rob Carlton serving as interviewer, and Jubelin answering the questions.
The show has been billed as a no-holds-barred look at life behind the police tape, inside the interview room and into the mind of the familiar black-suited man seen at the scenes of some of Australia's most high-profile homicide investigations.
"There's crime scenes that I can still smell, to this day," Jubelin said.
"But when you go there as a homicide detective, you're working. You have a job to do. My way of dealing with it is: I try not to put a life in the body.
"It's when I get home, that's when I might think, 'that poor person', 'they had defensive wounds on their hands - they were fighting for their life' and 'who could possibly have done that?'."
Jubelin found fame after his investigation into the 2001 murder of Terry Falconer became the basis for an Underbelly series.
When the Mercury calls, he has just finished speaking with Kathy Nowland, mother of the Bidwell 13-year-old Michelle Pogmore, whose 2004 rape and murder remains unsolved.
He remains in contact with other victims' families - the parents of the murdered Bowraville children and with Mark and Fay Leveson, who he accompanied to Waterfall in the Royal National Park in May 2017 as their son Matthew's bones were exhumed from a bushland grave, 10 years after he vanished.
He said he never pursued a relationship with victims' families, but was there if they wanted one.
"I get to meet people in the world of homicide, the victim's family, at the worst possible time of their lives, so the mere mentioned of me or talking to me potentially brings back all those horrific memories. If someone wants to stay in contact with me, I stay in contact - it's an individual thing.
"The amazing thing I've found, when the police went after me, was the support I got from the victims' families was just overwhelming."
Jubelin resigned following an investigation by the Professional Standards Command into his conduct on Strike Force Rosann, the unit he commanded in the search for William Tyrrell. He was later found guilty of using a mobile phone to record a suspect without a warrant.
He says the subject is not off-limits and a natural likely topic of discussion during the show.
"It didn't have to play out the way it did. I think a lot of people would have been happier if I said, 'I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done it', but I don't believe that," he said.
"Since leaving the cops I've had the opportunity to sit down with some of the bad guys and hear their stories and that's been quite enlightening for me. It's interesting because I could never be accused of being a softie or a bleeding heart
"I've got an understanding, and it's not too far of a stretch to say some empathy for them. The circumstances that lead people to commit crime, if other people found themselves in those circumstances they might do the same thing.
"It's definitely not black and white, the world of crime. Even in the darkness there's always a little bit of light."
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