Gary Jubelin's name will forever be associated with a little boy in a Spiderman suit.
The three-year-old disappeared from a house near Kendall in NSW on September 12, 2014, and was believed to have been abducted. He has never been found and the case remains unsolved.
Jubelin was lead detective on the case until being accused of breaching the Surveillance Devices Act by illegally recording four conversations with a suspect in the investigation between November 2017 and December 2018.
It was alleged the recordings were unlawful because they were made on Jubelin's mobile phone outside the scope of warrants issued. Jubelin argued in court he did so to "protect his lawful interest" but was convicted and fined $10,000. He unsuccessfully appealed the decision and in 2019 retired from the NSW Police Force.
Having spent three decades chasing the "bad guys" and leading some of the country's largest, most complex and high-profile investigations, it was a bitter pill to swallow. He's locked down in his Sydney home when Weekender calls.
"I'm doing OK, thanks, I try to stay positive," he says.
"It wears you down if you're negative or angry and that's certainly the way I left the cops. I could have been very bitter still but I had the people around me and the mechanisms in place so I didn't go down that path.
"It would have been self destructive if I had."
Actor and Silver Logie Award winner Rob Carlton was one of those people. He and Jubelin have been close friends for 20 years and it is he who encouraged Jubelin to keep an open mind when it came to a new career.
Today, Jubelin hosts true crime podcast I Catch Killers and is the author of best-selling book I Catch Killers: The Life and Many Deaths of a Homicide Detective which traces his journey from rebellious teen through to leading investigations into, for example, the serial killing of three Aboriginal children in Bowraville. He also ran the crime scene in the aftermath of the Lindt Café siege, and recovered the body of Matthew Leveson.
Now he is working on his second book, Badness, and next year will travel Australia with Carlton on the I Catch Killers Live tour.
"I remember having coffee with Rob on the Central Coast when it all blew up and he said 'Well, you can look at it two ways. You can be negative and angry about it or you can get on with your life and it will open up and you will meet people in the world you didn't know existed'," Jubelin says.
"So that's what I did.
"If I'd stayed a cop I would never have left because I wouldn't have had any need to quit, and by the time I did choose to leave there would have been nothing left of me.
"I've really enjoyed meeting interesting people working in the media world - it's challenging and it's reinvigorated me - but I'm mindful that I have been parachuted in to a certain level and I haven't paid my dues, and I am big on paying my dues.
"I keep busy because I need to learn and to challenge myself and this live show is an example of that. It's a challenge in itself, and something I never thought I'd be doing."
Nothing is off limits at the live show, Jubelin says. Carlton will ask him questions and Jubelin's answers will provide an insight into the true crimes and criminal minds he has been involved with over the years.
The audience also gets the chance to ask questions in an open Q&A session.
Speaking freely is something Jubelin is not accustomed to. Members of the police force quickly learn to be tight-lipped.
"I still have those shackles on - sometimes I'll be in live interviews and I'll fall back into the police jargon of 'inquiries are continuing' and all that - so it's been hard to get used to talking freely and openly," he says.
"I do think what I'm doing helps to bridge that gap between the community and the police though. We're human and we've got emotions too."
Carlton has acted professionally since he was 14. He won Tropfest 2006 with his film Carmichael & Shane, a six-minute mockumentary that he wrote, starred in, co-directed and co-produced. His television production company Shadowfax TV produced two series of the award-winning comedy Chandon Pictures and in 2011 he won a Silver Logie for his portrayal of Kerry Packer in Paper Giants - The Birth of Cleo, a role he reprised two years later in Paper Giants - Magazine Wars.
A champion debater and graduate of the University of Sydney where he majored in English and Australian literature, Carlton is also an in-demand public speaker who is looking forward to sharing with the world the Jubelin he knows so well. Theirs is a relationship based on trust, respect, and gleefully taking the mickey out of one another.
"I've seen Gary speak at various different functions and events and he is an extraordinary communicator," he says.
"I find him very funny and very self-deprecating with this boyish charm tucked away inside this suit of armour.
"Make no mistake, he is very bright, very bright, and laser focused, and in addition to that he is really charming and has an understanding of his own foibles, his own humanity.
"More than many other people he can see the humour in that rather than feeling emasculated by it.
"He's an interesting mix of a super tough guy who's really vulnerable and kind."
Jubelin is aware that everything he says and does on the tour will be watched carefully by his former employers. He knows they could always "come down on him like a tonne of bricks", a phrase he uses several times during our conversation.
It makes him nervous but it also steels his resolve.
"I'm very much aware that they are waiting for me to put a foot wrong and they'll come down on me again, I do worry about that, but I also back myself. I know what I'm talking about and I can justify what I'm talking about.
"With the William Tyrrell case, yes, of course it's frustrating. The thing I want to shout out from the rooftops is that I will stand up and put my name to anything I have done in that investigation. And I really hope they get a result soon."
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