BORN so poor his parents couldn’t even afford to give him a middle name, Brian was the oldest of the fighting Kane brothers, who grew to be feared Melbourne standover men.
Not as crazed as his brother Les, former “Golden Gloves” boxer Brian prospered by standing over illegal gambling joints and other crooks.
But his authority was challenged when he lost part of his ear in a pub brawl with Ray Bennett’s ally Vinnie Mikkelsen.
The humiliating injury made it hard for Kane to stay top dog, but he did not go quietly.
After Bennett was killed in the City Court in 1979, Bennett’s mate Laurie Prendergast disappeared; his body, like Les Kane‘s, was never found.
Mikkelsen went into exile and survived.
Meanwhile, Brian Kane was shot dead by two masked gunmen in Brunswick’s Quarry Hotel in 1982. Kane died game, pushing the woman with him under a table. Legend has it his pistol was in her handbag.
Some say Russell Cox and a notorious Melbourne killer did the hit to avenge Bennett’s death.
Brisbane’s ‘Mad Dog’ quizzed over underworld death
John Silvester and Reid Sexton
March 23, 2010
A NOTORIOUS Brisbane prison escapee and armed robber was last night questioned over the murder of violent stand-over man Brian Kane in a Melbourne hotel 27 years ago.
Russell ”Mad Dog” Cox was released after a three-hour grilling by Melbourne detectives at Brisbane police headquarters in Roma Street.
Police would say only that a 63-year-old Queensland man had been interviewed but a source familiar with the investigation confirmed it was Cox.
Fairfax revealed in October that Cox and a Melbourne gunman were prime suspects in the professional gangland hit, part of a bitter underworld war linked to the proceeds of the Great Bookie Robbery of 1976.
The investigation was reopened in late 2008 after police uncovered new information while investigating another murder. A reward for new leads in the case was last year doubled to $100,000.
Kane’s murder is one of the Melbourne underworld‘s greatest unsolved mysteries.
Cox was one of the most feared gunmen of his generation and a master criminal who organised some of Australia’s biggest payroll robberies.
He was serving life for the attempted murder of a prison officer in a previous escape when he broke out of a top-security division of Sydney’s Long Bay jail in 1977.
He was recaptured 11 years later in Melbourne when he crashed his getaway car as police fired shots at him after an attempted payroll van robbery.
Months after Kane’s killing, Cox killed career criminal Ian Revell Carroll in a gun battle in the Melbourne suburb of Mount Martha.
The dispute was believed to have been over money they had stolen together, and when police found the body they also uncovered a massive arsenal of weapons and armed robbery plans hidden in the ceiling.
Cox was a close friend of Ray Bennett, the mastermind behind the Great Bookie Robbery, and married his wife’s sister, Helen Deane. Cox was released from prison in 2004 and has lived in Brisbane since.
Kane’s brother, painter and docker Les, was shot dead in his Melbourne home in October 1978 as part of a feud with Bennett that began over the takings from the robbery.
Three men, including Bennett, were charged and acquitted of the murder. Bennett was shot dead by a gunman in the Melbourne City Court in November 1979, with police believing Brian Kane was the killer.
New lead revives hunt for Kane hit-men
October 21, 2009
Detectives today announced the reward for information on the murder will be doubled from $50,000 to $100,000.
Police have secretly re-opened a murder investigation into the gangland hit on notorious gunman Brian Kane more than 25 years after the feared standover man was shot dead in a Brunswick hotel.
The Kane file was secretly re-opened late last year after police received new information on the case while investigating another murder.
They have since uncovered more information they believe gives them a “realistic chance” of identifying the suspects.
The killing was part of a Melbourne underworld war over the proceeds from the 1976 Great Bookie Robbery. The feud left five men dead and a void later filled by a new breed of gangsters, including the notorious Moran clan.
Brian Kane’s brother Les, was machine-gunned to death in his Wantirna home in October 1978 and his body was never found. Three men were charged and acquitted of the murder. One of those men, Ray Bennett, was shot dead by a lone gunman in the City Court in November 1979. Police believe Brian Kane was the killer.
Brian Kane was shot dead by two balaclava-wearing men armed with snub-nosed .38 revolvers moments after he bought a round of half gin and tonics and sat down next to the jukebox in the Quarry Hotel, Lygon Street.
After Kane was murdered on November 26, 1982 there were more than 100 death notices from friends, family, and some men who would fill the void left by the series of murders.
Moran was shot dead in a gangland hit in Essendon North in June 2003. His father, Lewis, was shot in a Brunswick hotel in March 2004 and his half-brother Mark was ambushed and killed outside his Aberfeldie home in June 2000.
Les Kane’s daughter Suzie has been charged over the murder of Desmond Moran, Jason’s uncle, who was shot dead in June this year.
Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Craig Fitzgerald today said he believed the increased reward could unlock crucial information regarding the shooting of Brian Kane.
‘‘We believe there are people in the community who are in possession of vital information regarding this murder,’’ he said.
‘‘A significant reward of $100,000 we hope will encourage anybody who knows anything about this incident to come forward.’’
The Director of Public Prosecutions will consider granting indemnity from criminal prosecution to any key informant who comes forward.
Anyone with information has been asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or go to http://www.crimestoppers.com.au
with Mex Cooper