Highly decorated former police officer Michael McGann passes away

Former police officer Michael Patrick McGann, pictured in 2005, died on November 29 after a short illness. Picture: Danielle Smith, Fairfax Media

Former police officer Michael Patrick McGann, pictured in 2005, died on November 29 after a short illness. Picture: Danielle Smith, Fairfax Media

Sydney's southern suburbs lost a favourite son late last month, with the sudden death of highly decorated former police officer, Michael Patrick McGann.

Michael, often known as 'Mick', died on the Gold Coast on November 29 after a short illness.

Son of Pat (dec) and Maureen, Michael spent his childhood in Sans Souci and Bexley and his school days at Marist Brothers Kogarah, before joining the NSW Police Force as a cadet in 1973 at the age of 17.

He was sworn in as a probationary constable two years later and served at stations around the St George area, including Hurstville, Peakhurst, Mortdale and Kingsgrove, which is where he began his detective training.

He worked with the Breaking Squad at the CIB in central Sydney as well as at Miranda before retiring from the force in 1991 after several years with the homicide unit.

In the following years, he worked as an investigator for the Queensland Criminal Justice Commission, the National Crime Authority, the Building Industries Task Force and the Department of Mineral Resources, as well as holding several high profile security positions in the private sector.

Police colleagues describe Michael as a highly respected and valued investigator as well as a man of courage, integrity and honour. During his career he received a number of top police awards for his work including the Commissioner's Valour Award, the highest bravery award in the NSW Police.

Mick McGann was one of the first officers on the scene following the Fathers' Day bikie clash at Milperra's Viking Tavern where seven people died and 21 were injured. Picture: Paul Wright/Fairfax Media

Mick McGann was one of the first officers on the scene following the Fathers' Day bikie clash at Milperra's Viking Tavern where seven people died and 21 were injured. Picture: Paul Wright/Fairfax Media

It is obvious that such honours are not handed out lightly, and Michael was involved in a wide range of high profile investigations that helped keep his community safe, often at great personal risk.

Some of those situations included the 1988 arrest in Hurstville of armed bank robber, Stanley Shishova, the arrest of the Kareela cat burglar in 1984, and the Fathers' Day bikie clash at Milperra's Viking Tavern the same year where seven people died and 21 were injured. Michael was one of the first on the scene.

He was injured eight times during his career, including having acid poured on his back - acid so corrosive it destroyed his service pistol. He also suffered lifelong problems after being badly injured in one knee when a faulty homemade gun discharged.

Michael's funeral service included a eulogy delivered by long-time friend and colleague, Brian Harding, and a full honour guard provided by the NSW Police Force. Around 200 people attended the service including numerous friends from Sydney and past and serving officers from NSW Police.

He is survived by his partner Jill Courtney, mother Maureen, daughter Rhiannon, and brothers Paul and Peter. Michael was 63.

- Liz Swanton