Gary Jubelin isn’t sure why his podcasts have struck such a chord with listeners, but like any good detective, he has a few theories.
Firstly, there’s the explosion in popularity of true crime, a genre in which his I Catch Killers podcast consistently appears near the top of Australian charts.
And if anyone knows crime, it’s Jubelin, thanks to his 34 years in the police force (25 in homicide) cracking cases, catching crooks, rubbing shoulders with lawyers and correctional officers, and consoling victims of crime.
He’s even fallen foul of the judicial system himself and left NSW Police after being found guilty of illegally recording conversations with a person of interest in the disappearance of the William Tyrell case.
“If I’m talking about crime, people know I’ve lived and breathed it,” Jubelin says.
“I’ve been a police officer. I even found myself on the other side of the law with my court conviction. I think people have gone ‘what’s this idiot got to say?’ and I think that’s a starting point.”
In addition, he muses, having switched to a media career later in life gives him a “rawness” and a rapport with his guests that can’t be faked.
“I want to give people a fly-on-the-wall experience,” he says.
“It’s two people sitting down having a conversation so you’re almost like a third person in the conversation. And that’s what I think people are probably relating to.”
When he first started I Catch Killers, Jubelin mostly focused on the good deeds of his fellow police officers, but soon realised that such a “one-dimensional” approach could not do justice to the more nuanced view of crime that he’d arrived at after decades in law enforcement. Instead of concentrating solely on catching bad guys, he opened his mind to what makes criminals do the things they do.
“What’s really interested me is speaking to the bad guys, where they will talk to me, sitting down and finding out who they are and what’s happened,” he says.
“Another area that really fascinates me is how to fight crime, not with the gun and handcuffs as I was used to, but talking about preventive and restorative justice. They’re doing some great work in the prisons now. And I’ve tried to explain to people who think I have gone soft that the reality is that 95 per cent of people that go into prison are going to be released back into society. So it just makes sense that if we can get them to come out a better person than when they went in, everyone’s a winner.”
Podcasting and writing – he’s also released two books I Catch Killers and Badness – also proved to be something of a lifeline for the veteran cop once he’d left the force.
Although he always knew he’d survive away from police work, Jubelin was left directionless and with a burning desire to still do some good.
Ken Marslew, who devoted his life to reducing rates of crime and violence and supporting victims’ rights after his son was killed in a robbery, encouraged Jubelin to use his new platform and decades of experience to educate the wider public about crime.
His new pursuits helped fill the void left by conventional policing.
“Most definitely,” he agrees.
“I had the passion and I had the energy and that was sort of ripped away from me. That was what I did. That was everything that I was interested in – fighting crime and homicide.
“So when that was taken away, I had all this energy and nowhere to direct it and I wasn’t ready to put the cue in the rack. And I was fortunate enough to fall into this environment.”
Jubelin’s talents, experience and continuing desire for justice are now being put to use on his new podcast, Predatory.
The project began when former Neighbours actor Madeleine West contacted him to share her experiences of being sexually abused as a child and the pair worked together on a series that would alert parents to the dangers of paedophiles as well as sharing tips on how to keep children safe.
Over eight episodes, West and Jubelin dig deep into distressing but important subjects such as the dark web, grooming, paedophile behaviour and psychology, and talk to survivors, victim advocates and law enforcement agencies.