It was classic 1960s-70s drama Homicide that struck a chord with a young Ron Iddles and spurred him on to a real-life career as a homicide detective.
“I used to love watching Crawford’s Homicide and thought ‘I would love to be Leonard Teale or John Fegan.’ I joined at 18 and had my heart set on becoming a detective. I joined the Homicide squad in 1980 and spent 25 years of my career there.”
He rose to the ranks of Detective Senior Sergeant and would later head up the Cold Case Division and receive an OAM. Incredibly, Iddles has solved 99% of the over 320 murder investigations he has investigated, spanned across 25 years in the homicide squad. No wonder they call him “Australia’s Greatest Detective.”
“I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to America, London, Spain, France following up leads and investigations. I’ve been to New York to see their FBI course. I did a course in Albany, New York, in relation to cold case investigations and then set up the first cold case unit in Australia in 2001,” he recalls.
“Homicides fascinated me because they are a big jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes you start with nothing and you put it all together.”
“I wanted to make sure the families of those involved knew about it. “
His biography The Good Cop became the basis for a true crime series produced by CJZ for Foxtel. Despite being retired from the force, he was coaxed into stepping back into the public spotlight as the show’s storyteller.
“I wasn’t ‘reluctant’ but I had to think about it. I wanted to make sure the families of those involved knew about it. In the end most of them wanted to participate in it,” he continues.
“I’ve done a lot of ‘stand-ups’ at crime scenes but nothing like a documentary. It’s easy to stand up at a crime scene and say someone was stabbed, but to go to a production like this is totally different.
“Reuniting with families was good but I didn’t like repeating everything, but you have to understand they know what they are doing and thy have to piece it together. They’re doing it to make you look good.”
There are 6 cases featured in the series revisited through Iddles’ eyes, with re-enactments and family participants. Tonight he looks back on solving the 1982 murder of six-year old, Bonnie Clarke.
“For Foxtel it’s the first time an original investigator has narrated a story and been part of it,” he says.
“I think the way it has come together is good. It isn’t over-dramatised, some parts are confronting but that’s the reality of true crime.”
“In every homicide I have done the killer has always told someone”
The secret, if such exists, to his success is his belief that someone in the community always has the answer to a crime.
“In every homicide I have done the killer has always told someone. So it’s about finding who they’ve told.
“Even in contract killings people tell someone,” he explains.
“It’s a big burden to carry if you don’t. They feel release when they share the story.
“An interview is really just a conversation where you try to tap in and understand why they’ve done it.”
If the series proves successful, there is plenty of scope for more filming, with over another 300 solved cases.
“We’ll see how this goes. I won’t say no and I won’t say yes,” he admits.
Ron Iddles: The Good Cop airs 7:30pm Thursdays on Crime + Investigation.