THE man accused of murdering underworld crime boss Carl Williams can today be named as fellow-prisoner Matthew Johnson.
Two suppression order on Johnson’s name were lifted this morning.
Williams suffered massive head injuries after he was allegedly struck several times with the stem of an exercise bike in the maximum security Acacia unit at the Barwon maximum security prison about 12.50pm on April 19.
Williams, 39, was seated when he was struck.
An autopsy report obtained by the Herald Sun in August stated Williams suffered head injuries after being attacked as he read a newspaper.
He was then dragged to his cell where, a forensic pathologist observed, he was not noticed for up to 30 minutes.
The Corrections Victoria inquiry is one of three being held into the death of Williams.
From the Age…
THE identity of the man charged with the jailhouse bashing murder of gangland boss Carl Williams can now be revealed.
He is Matthew Charles Johnson, 37, who is accused of attacking Williams last April in a day room in the maximum security Acacia unit of Barwon Prison.
Williams, 39, who was serving multiple life sentences for a series of Melbourne gangland murders, suffered massive head injuries and a heart attack.
It is alleged that Johnson used the stem of an exercise bike in the attack on Williams, who was seated, which chief commissioner Simon Overland has said was captured on CCTV footage.
At the time of his death, Williams was sharing the unit with Johnson and another inmate, Thomas “Little Tommy” Ivanovic, who was present at the time.
Two suppression orders that have prevented Johnson’s name being published were lifted today.
Williams, who was jailed for a minimum of 35 years by Justice Betty King in 2007, is believed to have been dragged into his cell after the attack where he was found about 20 minutes later by prison officers.
Johnson first appeared unrepresented on the murder charge in Geelong Magistrates Court soon after Williams’ death.
He appeared again in July in the same court where his solicitor Christopher Traill announced that his client’s defence to the charge was likely to be “defensive homicide”.
The heavily-built and head-shaved Johnson was in court again this week, flanked by five prison officers seated behind security glass.
He is also listed to appear this Friday in Geelong on the murder charge where a witness list for a later contested committal is expected to be finalised and to discuss subpoena issues.
Williams’ father George Williams and former wife Roberta Williams are expected to be called as witnesses at the committal, presently booked for next month, along with a number of prison officers.
Three separate investigations have been launched into Williams’ death.
He was jailed after pleading guilty to the murders of Lewis Moran, his son Jason and Mark Mallia and for conspiring to murder Mario Condello.
- Carl killed as guards play cricket: report (news.theage.com.au)
- Prison guards caught out (heraldsun.com.au)
Some earlier stories on Johnson, and bad ass from way back…
Inside the trial from hell
December 14 2002
By Steve Butcher, Selma Milovanovic
More than two years after four maximum security prisoners unleashed chaos on the state’s justice system, the law will soon punish them for their sins.
Central to the inmates’ contemptuous acts was multiple murderer Gregory John Brazel, 47, a contract killer who boasted of breaking all 10 Commandments in his life.
Brazel, the four men and John Lindrea had lived for years in Barwon Prison by the law of the jungle in order to survive.
Matthew Charles Johnson, 29, Sean Jason Sonnet, 33, Jason Brian Paisley, 23, Stephen Wenitong, 30, and Lindrea, 40, were accused of bashing Brazel on October 1, 1998, as payback for an earlier incident.
Brazel later broke the cardinal rule of the jungle – he turned “dog” and agreed to testify against them at a contested County Court trial in 2000 before Judge Warren Fagan.
The thought of presiding over such a trial, defence barrister Tony Lewis later said, “would fill most judges with horror”.
Wenitong and Lindrea were found not guilty of intentionally causing serious injury, while the others were sentenced to eight years with a minimum of six for the offence.
They later were granted a retrial and pleaded guilty last month to a lesser assault charge.
Next Thursday, Judge Leo Hart of the County Court will hear their pleas in mitigation.
Justice Robert Osborn of the Supreme Court, who has heard a total of 24 contempt charges to which Johnson, Sonnet, Paisley and Wenitong pleaded guilty, recently observed: “From (Judge Fagan’s) point of view, it was pretty close to the trial from hell.”
The fireworks began when Brazel testified, sparking some of the worst acts of contempt of court witnessed in this state.
Paisley hurled a bag of excrement into the jury box, Johnson passed wind into a microphone, and Paisley and Wenitong bared their buttocks in the dock.
The faeces incident and vicious verbal abuse of Judge Fagan saw them expelled to another courtroom linked to the hearing by television screens.
Paisley’s barrister, Mark Taft, described the video evidence of the contempts as a “tribal outburst which is chaotic . . . disorderly . . . offensive . . . but utterly self-defeating”.
At the end of the trial, Judge Fagan told the 11 remaining jurors – one was excused after being struck by the excrement – that he would ask authorities to ensure their safety after they heard that Brazel had allegedly obtained the forewoman’s address.
All four claimed at their recent contempt hearing that Brazel had provoked them and Judge Fagan had failed to control him.
Brazel, the son of a detective and a former altar boy, is now serving a 30-year sentence for killing two prostitutes in 1990.
Mr Taft told Justice Osborn that Paisley was “very much the putty to the manipulations” of Brazel, a “highly intelligent, psychopathic witness”.
Mr Taft said the Court of Appeal judges who granted the retrial found that Judge Fagan should have exercised more control over Brazel.
Justice Osborn responded that the trial’s defence barristers had “effectively allowed (Brazel) to camp in the witness box for four days and make his home there” during their cross-examinations.
Paisley was a chronically institutionalised man who had spent much of his life “behind glass or walls”, Mr Taft said.
Mr Lewis said that for Wenitong baring his buttocks was an expression of rage over his perception that Judge Fagan had failed to control Brazel.
He said such a defiant act was disrespectful to a court, but “there are a whole tribe of the successors to the writers of Monty Python and Mr (Steve) Vizard and his various shows which think this (baring buttocks) is hilarious”.
Barrister Gavan Meredith described Sonnet’s contempts as an uncontrollable “outpouring of frustration”.
Mr Meredith said Sonnet, now on bail, appreciated the enormity of the task of rebuilding his life.
Finally, Russell Sarah, for Johnson, said Brazel had set out to inflame each accused because he know which “buttons to push”. But Justice Osborn said he doubted that Brazel had usurped the trial and deliberately antagonised the accused.
He told Mr Sarah: “I’ve already put to you, that to use your cricketing analogy, I may ultimately think (Brazel) was playing off the back foot, when, as you say, he’s on the front foot.
“But I don’t disagree with you that he was scoring.”
Crown prosecutor Chris Ryan asked Justice Osborn, who is expected to sentence next Friday, to consider a “short, sharp, shock” term of imprisonment for each man.