Carl Williams death accused Matthew Johnson named


Accused killer Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson is accused of killing Carl Williams

Mathew Johnson

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.

The underworld kingpin was serving life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 35 years after pleading guilty in 2007 to murdering underworld figures Jason Moran, Lewis Moran and Mark Mallia.

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.

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.

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A who's who…


1995

1998

  • The Melbourne gangland killings are believed to have begun with the murder of 40-year-old Alphonse Gangitano on 16 January 1998. He was shot and killed in the laundry of his home, while clad only in his underwear. A coroner’s report into his death directly implicated Jason Moran and Graham Kinniburgh.
  • Graham Kinniburgh

    Graham Kinniburgh

    They were both found to be in Gangitano’s home in Templestowe when the murder took place; however, it could not be established who pulled the trigger. Kinniburgh’s blood was found on a banister inside the house, and his skin was found on a dent on the front security door. Both were excused from giving evidence to the coroner on the grounds they might incriminate themselves.

  • On 3 August John Furlan, a 48-year-old motor mechanic from Coburg was killed by a car bomb in his Subaru Liberty outside his home. Domenic “Mick” Gatto was treated as a suspect since he had recently been involved in a payment dispute with the deceased; however, no one has been arrested in connection with his death.
  • 42-year-old stand-over man Charles Hegyaljie, known as “Mad Charlie”, was killed at his Caulfield home on 23 November. He was an acquaintance of Chopper Read and had been associated with the amphetamine industry. Dino Dibra was linked to the killing, which was believed to be either drug or debt related.

1999

  • Vince Mannella a former associate of Victor Peirce and Alphonse Gangitano, was ambushed and killed outside his home in North Fitzroy on the evening of 9 January. Media suspected his death was debt-related or part of an underworld power struggle but no suspects were ever named.
  • Danny Catania was the victim of a drive-by shooting about 6.00am on 24 February. Catania was waiting outside his home in Hoppers Crossing in Melbourne’s western suburbs for a regular lift to work when an early model white Commodore slowed as it cruised by. A gunman in the car, reputedly Andrew Veniamin, opened fire, hitting Catania at least four times in the legs and groin. Catania, a mid-level “player” in the underworld was an ex-boxer who had a string of minor convictions, mostly for violence. Catania almost lost a leg as a result of the shooting and spent 12 months in hospital recovering. Those in the car were never caught. On Monday 22 May 2006 Catania, then 30, was sentenced to a minimum of six years jail for pouring petrol over a man who had annoyed him and setting the victim alight, causing horrific burns. Not surprisingly, Catania told the court that on his eventual release from jail, he wanted to “pack up and travel out of Melbourne”.
  • Joseph Quadara, a 57-year-old greengrocer, was ambushed by two people and killed in a Toorak carpark in the early hours of 28 May as he was about to start work at a Safeway supermarket. The former millionaire was declared bankrupt in 1994. Police believed that his killing was a case of mistaken identity, due to the existence of another Giuseppe “Joe” Quadara involved in Melbourne’s fruit and vegetable industry with underworld connections.
  • Brighton businessman Dimitrios Belias, 38, was killed with a single shot to the back of the head on 9 September in an underground carpark on St Kilda road. He was believed to be heavily in debt.
  • On 13 October known drug dealer Carl Williams was shot in the stomach and survived in Gladstone Park. Williams told the police he blacked out and could not identify the shooter. Known underworld figures Mark and Jason Moran were present at the time, and police believe there was a dispute related to a failed amphetamines batch and ownership of drug manufacturing equipment. A woman told police she heard a man cry “No, Jason!” moments before a shot was fired.
  • On 20 October Vince Mannella’s brother, 31-year-old Gerardo Mannella, was ambushed and killed outside his brother’s home, after attempting to flee from two men.
  • On 25 November George and Carl Williams were charged with multiple drug offences after police raided an alleged amphetamine factory in Broadmeadows. Police seized around 25,000 amphetamine tablets, a pill press, a loaded pistol and 6.95 kg of powders containing methamphetamine, ketamine, and pseudoephedrine with a street value up to AU$20 million. These charges were never brought to trial because of corruption allegations against former drug squad detectives involved in the raid.

2000 – 2002

  • 52-year-old fruiterer Francesco Benvenuto, also known as “Frank Benvenuto”, was shot dead while sitting in his car in the driveway of his Beaumaris home on 8 May 2000. Phone records show that as Benvenuto lay dying he managed to ring ex-employee and associate Victor Peirce on his mobile phone. [citation needed] Police initially treated him as a suspect but later offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Mark Moran and Andrew Veniamin were later named as chief suspects.
  • Richard Mladenich, a 39-year-old career criminal and associate of Mark Moran, was killed with a single bullet in the St Kilda Esquire Hotel on 16 May 2000. He had recently been released from jail where he once shared a cell with Chopper Read. Police later named Rocco Arico as a suspect but were unable to interview him whilst he was in prison. They later named Dino Dibra as their primary suspect
  • On 15 June 2000, Mark Moran was killed by Carl Williams with two bullets as he was getting out of his white Holden utility vehicle, outside his luxury home in Aberfeldie. Moran’s murder was initially thought of as retribution for the death of Frank Benvenuto.
  • 25-year-old Dino Dibra was killed on 14 October 2000, after leaving his house in West Sunshine. At the time he was facing charges relating to kidnap and assault. At a police press conference, Detective Inspector Andrew Allen said “We are confident that this gunman is a hired hitman and that he, along with another person, ambushed Mr Dibra that night about 9.15pm and shot him a number of times … this is not the only murder (the gunman) has committed“. This police profile strongly suggested that “Benji” Veniamin was one of the gunmen. A A$100 000 reward was offered by police for information.
  • George Germanos was shot repeatedly in an Armadale park on 22 March 2001.
  • On 19 May 2001 Carl Williams was re-arrested and charged with drug trafficking and possession. He remained in custody until 17 July 2002 when he was released on bail due to an internal corruption investigation at the Victorian police drug squad.
  • Victor Peirce, 42, was killed on 1 May 2002, while in a car parked opposite the Coles supermarket in Bay Street, Port Melbourne. A white Holden Commodore pulled up beside Peirce, and Peirce exchanged words with the occupants inside the car, before being shot four times at close range. Victor was officially employed as a waterfront worker, however Police believed he was the leader of various drug syndicates in Melbourne and heavily involved with drug trafficking. The death of Peirce heavily impacted the Melbourne underworld. Some media linked Nik Radev with the killing but Police never named any suspects.
  • Alexander Kudryavstev was shot by Michael Goldman on 10 July 2002. Goldman, 55, said he shot to miss a wounded acquaintance on a suburban nature strip despite orders from psychotic criminal, Nik Radev to “finish him”. Goldman said he was “under the gun” and terrified of Radev. Goldman lured Kudryavstev to his Hampton flat and told a Supreme Court jury he was acting like a robot when he shot Mr Kudryavstev in the stomach at the flat. He said Radev told him earlier the same day: “Give him one in the head and I take care of the body.” Goldman, of Highett Road, plead not guilty to the attempted murder of Mr Kudryavstev. The jury heard Mr Kudryavstev, a police informer, was wearing a concealed tape recorder when shot in the abdomen and in the head. He secretly recorded his terrifying brush with death. Goldman shot Mr Kudryavstev in the abdomen as he greeted him at the front door. Mr Kudryavstev said he moved his head when Goldman fired at him on a nature strip near Highett Road. Goldman denied during cross-examination that he knew at the time Mr Kudryavstev was a police informer. He said an angry Radev wanted to meet Mr Kudryavstev over a burglary at a friend’s warehouse. On 27 May 2004 Goldman was jailed for 14 years. Supreme Court judge Justice Robert Redlich ordered Goldman to serve a minimum non-parole term of 11 years. “Your anger and desire to kill him (Mr Kudryavstev) is evident on listening to the tape recording,” said the judge.
  • On 16 October 2002, the body of drug dealer Paul Kallipolitis was found in his West Sunshine home. He was lying on his bed and had one gunshot wound to the head. He clearly knew his killer. Police believe he had been murdered a day earlier and publicly suspected that his one-time-friend Andrew Veniamin was the killer. Veniamin took over Kallipolitis’ drugs business the next day. Veniamin and Kallipolitis had been friends for many years, since they were kids. Kallipolitis shot and killed a man in Deer Park almost a decade earlier after having a gun pulled on him. Angelo Mario Venditti was arrested for this murder on 29 July 2008

2003

  • Nikolai "The Russian" Radev

    Nikolai "The Russian" Radev

    Nik Radev, known as “The Russian”, was killed in Queen St Coburg on 15 April. The known drug dealer and standover man was shot seven times in the head and chest as he sat in his Mercedes-Benz coupé. Victoria Police told The Age that they believed his death was planned by a father and son drug manufacturing team, and a hitman suspected of four other murders carried out the killing in a red sedan. Andrew Veniamin met Radev on the day of the murder and unambiguously fitted the police description of the prime suspect, along with George and Carl Williams. Radev had been warned that he was a marked man but ignored the warnings refusing to believe his friends would turn on him. Damien Cossu and Alfonso Traglia were with Radev at the time of the murder but claimed they could not identify the gunman, and were subsequently named by police as ‘persons of interest’

  • On 6 June 28-year-old male prostitute Shane Chartres-Abbott was shot dead outside his Reservoir home. Underworld assassin Evangelos Goussis confessed to this murder and said two corrupt detectives were linked to the murder.
  • Jason Moran

    Jason Moran

    On 21 June 36-year-old Jason Moran, and his minder, 40-year-old Pasquale Barbaro were shot dead as they sat in a parked blue van outside an Auskick football clinic in Essendon. Five children were witness to the murder including Moran’s six-year-old twin boy and girl. The gunman ran away across the football oval and over a Moonee Ponds Creek footbridge to a waiting vehicle.

  • Small time drug dealer Willie Thompson, 39, was killed on 21 July while sitting in his car after leaving a karate club in Chadstone. Police say the gunman strolled up to the car and shot Thompson dead before escaping with a second person in a stolen Ford sedan. Some bullets were lodged in nearby shops. Thompson’s official occupation was a lollipop vendor inside nightclubs, and a police report said he had recently developed an enmity with Nik Radev.
  • Housam Zayat, 32, was found in a paddock in Tarneit with multiple bullet wounds to the head on 11 September. Zayat was also a close associate of Nik Radev.
  • On 20 October Istvan “Steve” Gulyas, 49, and his defacto wife were found executed in their Sunbury home. Together they ran a dating agency, Partner Search Australia, which Police suspected was a front for a brothel. Gulyas was also a friend of Nik Radev.
  • On 25 October 2003, Michael Marshall was shot outside his luxury South Yarra home in front of his five-year-old son.
  • On 17 November Carl Williams was arrested and charged with making threats to kill a Purana Taskforce detective and the investigator’s girlfriend. The alleged threats were made in a taped phone conversation to Victor Brincat in Barwon Prison. Carl was bailed two weeks later. The arrest was dramatically captured on film by The Age photographer Angela Wylie.
  • 62-year-old Graham Kinniburgh, known as “The Munster”, was ambushed and shot dead outside his home in Kew just after midnight on 13 December. Police said he had been killed in front of family members soon after parking his car. Kinniburgh was carrying a gun and managed to return one shot before being killed. He was considered Melbourne’s most influential criminal at the time of his death. Domenic Gatto was a pallbearer at his funeral, Lewis Moran and many other underworld figures also attended. Andrew Veniamin was treated as a suspect in his murder, and Carl Williams was also questioned.

2004

  • On 23 March Andrew Veniamin was shot dead by Domenic Gatto in the Carlton pizza restaurant “La Porcella” after an argument. Gatto was charged with his murder, Police alleging that Domenic had set a trap for Veniamin. Veniamin was a close associate of Carl Williams and was suspected to be a hitman involved in as many as seven underworld murders. Gatto was later acquitted on the grounds of self-defence.

    Domenic "Mick" Gatto

    Domenic "Mick" Gatto

  • The next victim was 58-year-old Lewis Moran, father of Jason Moran and stepfather of Mark Moran. On 31 March he was shot and killed in broad daylight by two balaclava-clad men in the front bar of the Brunswick Club in Brunswick. Lewis had only recently been released on bail for drug trafficking charges and police had warned him that his life was in danger. The shooting also injured his associate, Bert Wrout.
  • On 8 May the body of Lewis Caine was found dumped in Brunswick street, with a single gunshot wound to the head. He was a friend of Carl Williams and had been seen dining with him two nights earlier. In May 2008, Evangelos Goussis was convicted of killing Lewis Moran in March 2004. Goussis was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years for the Caine murder and in February 2009 was sentenced to life in prison for the Moran killing. He will be eligible for parole in 2039.
  • Terrence and Christine Hodson were found executed in their Kew home on 16 May. Terrence Hodson was revealed to be a police informant. A week before the bodies were found ABC radio reported that a leaked document revealing Hodson as an informant was doing the rounds in certain underworld circles. It is also reported that an associate of Lewis Moran hired Hodson to murder Carl Williams in 2001.
  • Purana Taskforce detectives arrested Carl Williams for conspiracy to murder on 9 June. His associates Sean Sonnet and Gregg Hildebrandt were arrested only metres from the home of Mario Condello. Victoria Police said the raids had “absolutely” saved Mario Condello from becoming the 28th gangland victim.Eight days later Mario Condello and Dominic Gatto’s solicitor, George Defteros, were arrested over a simultaneous plan to murder George Williams and Carl Williams.

2005

  • Antonio Sergi was shot as he sat in his car on 13 November. He was parked just 400 metres from the Moonee Ponds police station. Sergi staggered into the arms of police after he was shot in the chest and both arms. Sergi, 32, of Sydenham, was in a stable condition in hospital, having driven himself to the police station after being shot in The Strand, on the edge of Queens Park, about 1.20 am. He was due to appear in court over ecstasy importation charges.

2006

  • On 6 February, the eve of his murder trial, Mario Condello was shot and killed in his driveway at around 10 pm. Condello had dined with Mick Gatto earlier in the night and police have warned Gatto is under increased risk as this may be the resumption of the gangland war.
  • On 20 March Melbourne business man Tony Mokbel failed to appear in Court during his trial for the importation of cocaine from Mexico in 2000. Mokbel had been granted bail by friendly Magistrate Phillip Goldberg, despite protests from the Police. A warrant was issued for his arrest, but Mokbel had not been seen since 5pm on 19 March. His defence team feared for his life. The week before this date, Mokbel raised concerns for his safety, after an incident not related to this case. He eventually reappeared and was arrested by Greek police in Athens, Greece on 5 June 2007. Mokbel was successfully extradited to Australia on 17 May 2008.
  • On 14 October Michael “Eyes” Pastras was shot once in the buttocks and once in the thigh at a house in Albion St, Brunswick. Pastras gave evidence at Mick Gatto‘s murder trial that he spoke to Andrew Veniamin on 23 March 2004, the day Veniamin was shot dead by Mr Gatto. He said that Veniamin never mentioned anything to him about wanting to harm Mr Gatto. But after testifying, he approached the Purana gangland killing taskforce and made a statement refuting what he said in the witness box. Pastras told Purana detectives he saw Veniamin with a gun when he went to meet Mr Gatto in Carlton’s La Porcella restaurant and that Veniamin told him he wanted Mr Gatto dead. He claimed Veniamin told him: “I am fucking dirty on Mick Gatto. He has got to go.” That evidence was not presented to the jury in the Gatto murder trial. Pastras was named in a confidential Victoria Police document that was blamed for prompting the executions of police informer Terrence Hodson and his wife, Christine in 2004. It contained details of what Hodson told police and was leaked to Melbourne’s underworld shortly before the Hodsons were shot dead in their Kew home in 2004. His brother Savas Pastras was an associate of Lewis Moran. Pastras, 39, turned up at Moran’s Essendon unit on 25 October 2002, not knowing police were inside raiding it. One of the detectives asked Moran’s partner, Virginia Strazdas, who was the man walking up the driveway, and she said he was a friend. Moran’s partner ignored a police command not to warn the man and managed to slightly open the door and tell him to go away. A detective, Senior Constable Victor Anastasiadis, said he opened the door, recognised Pastras and said, “Sav, come in.” He was taken into Moran’s house and a search discovered he had $44,000 in $100 and $50 notes hidden under his jacket in a green plastic bag. After removing the bag, Pastras hunched over and began to shake, he said. Detective Senior Sergeant Marty Allison told the court that Pastras had a look of shock and horror on his face when police confronted him. “He looked as though he had seen a ghost; he couldn’t speak. He opened his mouth but words weren’t coming out,” Senior Sergeant Allison said. Forensic tests revealed the cash showed traces of heroin and cocaine. Savas Pastras was charged with possessing the proceeds of crime. Police alleged the $44,000 was to be paid to Lewis Moran to settle a drug debt. Pastras’s lawyer, Stephen Shirrefs, SC, told the court that the warrant used to conduct the raid on Moran’s home was illegal. “The search of Mr Pastras and the seizure of the money on him only arose because he was invited into the house by police,” Mr Shirrefs said. He said the money could not be deemed proceeds of crime because Moran had not touched the cash and police said it was related to a drug deal “purported to have occurred”. Magistrate Ann Collins ruled in April 2004 that Savas Pastras had no case to answer because police could not prove the money was derived from a crime. Collins cleared Mr Pastras in the Broadmeadows Magistrates Court after finding that police could not prove that the money, stashed in a green plastic shopping bag, had anything to do with the sale of drugs. She also found that police could not prove that traces of heroin and cocaine found on the cash did not come from other sources.

2009

  • On Monday 15 June underworld identity Desmond Moran is shot dead at Ascot Vale in Melbourne’s north-west. Des Moran is the brother of slain underworld figure Lewis Moran, who was murdered in 2004 during Melbourne’s gangland war, and uncle to Mark and Jason Moran, who were also killed in gangland disputes. Des Moran originally escaped serious injury in March 2009 when shots were fired outside his Ascot Vale home. He was in his car with a friend when one shot was fired through the front windscreen, narrowly missing the pair. At the time, a Purana Task Force detective said police did not believe that incident was gangland-related. On Tuesday 16 June Sister-in-Law Judy Moran was arrested and charged along with two other people in relation to the murder.

2010

  • On 19 April 2010, Carl Williams died while incarcerated at Barwon Prison after allegedly being bashed by a fellow inmate, while another was on the phone.His death was the result of a cardiac arrest linked to severe head injuries received during the attack. It is currently unknown as to whether Williams’ death is directly related to previous gangland killings.

A who’s who…


1995

1998

  • The Melbourne gangland killings are believed to have begun with the murder of 40-year-old Alphonse Gangitano on 16 January 1998. He was shot and killed in the laundry of his home, while clad only in his underwear. A coroner’s report into his death directly implicated Jason Moran and Graham Kinniburgh.
  • Graham Kinniburgh

    Graham Kinniburgh

    They were both found to be in Gangitano’s home in Templestowe when the murder took place; however, it could not be established who pulled the trigger. Kinniburgh’s blood was found on a banister inside the house, and his skin was found on a dent on the front security door. Both were excused from giving evidence to the coroner on the grounds they might incriminate themselves.

  • On 3 August John Furlan, a 48-year-old motor mechanic from Coburg was killed by a car bomb in his Subaru Liberty outside his home. Domenic “Mick” Gatto was treated as a suspect since he had recently been involved in a payment dispute with the deceased; however, no one has been arrested in connection with his death.
  • 42-year-old stand-over man Charles Hegyaljie, known as “Mad Charlie”, was killed at his Caulfield home on 23 November. He was an acquaintance of Chopper Read and had been associated with the amphetamine industry. Dino Dibra was linked to the killing, which was believed to be either drug or debt related.

1999

  • Vince Mannella a former associate of Victor Peirce and Alphonse Gangitano, was ambushed and killed outside his home in North Fitzroy on the evening of 9 January. Media suspected his death was debt-related or part of an underworld power struggle but no suspects were ever named.
  • Danny Catania was the victim of a drive-by shooting about 6.00am on 24 February. Catania was waiting outside his home in Hoppers Crossing in Melbourne’s western suburbs for a regular lift to work when an early model white Commodore slowed as it cruised by. A gunman in the car, reputedly Andrew Veniamin, opened fire, hitting Catania at least four times in the legs and groin. Catania, a mid-level “player” in the underworld was an ex-boxer who had a string of minor convictions, mostly for violence. Catania almost lost a leg as a result of the shooting and spent 12 months in hospital recovering. Those in the car were never caught. On Monday 22 May 2006 Catania, then 30, was sentenced to a minimum of six years jail for pouring petrol over a man who had annoyed him and setting the victim alight, causing horrific burns. Not surprisingly, Catania told the court that on his eventual release from jail, he wanted to “pack up and travel out of Melbourne”.
  • Joseph Quadara, a 57-year-old greengrocer, was ambushed by two people and killed in a Toorak carpark in the early hours of 28 May as he was about to start work at a Safeway supermarket. The former millionaire was declared bankrupt in 1994. Police believed that his killing was a case of mistaken identity, due to the existence of another Giuseppe “Joe” Quadara involved in Melbourne’s fruit and vegetable industry with underworld connections.
  • Brighton businessman Dimitrios Belias, 38, was killed with a single shot to the back of the head on 9 September in an underground carpark on St Kilda road. He was believed to be heavily in debt.
  • On 13 October known drug dealer Carl Williams was shot in the stomach and survived in Gladstone Park. Williams told the police he blacked out and could not identify the shooter. Known underworld figures Mark and Jason Moran were present at the time, and police believe there was a dispute related to a failed amphetamines batch and ownership of drug manufacturing equipment. A woman told police she heard a man cry “No, Jason!” moments before a shot was fired.
  • On 20 October Vince Mannella’s brother, 31-year-old Gerardo Mannella, was ambushed and killed outside his brother’s home, after attempting to flee from two men.
  • On 25 November George and Carl Williams were charged with multiple drug offences after police raided an alleged amphetamine factory in Broadmeadows. Police seized around 25,000 amphetamine tablets, a pill press, a loaded pistol and 6.95 kg of powders containing methamphetamine, ketamine, and pseudoephedrine with a street value up to AU$20 million. These charges were never brought to trial because of corruption allegations against former drug squad detectives involved in the raid.

2000 – 2002

  • 52-year-old fruiterer Francesco Benvenuto, also known as “Frank Benvenuto”, was shot dead while sitting in his car in the driveway of his Beaumaris home on 8 May 2000. Phone records show that as Benvenuto lay dying he managed to ring ex-employee and associate Victor Peirce on his mobile phone. [citation needed] Police initially treated him as a suspect but later offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Mark Moran and Andrew Veniamin were later named as chief suspects.
  • Richard Mladenich, a 39-year-old career criminal and associate of Mark Moran, was killed with a single bullet in the St Kilda Esquire Hotel on 16 May 2000. He had recently been released from jail where he once shared a cell with Chopper Read. Police later named Rocco Arico as a suspect but were unable to interview him whilst he was in prison. They later named Dino Dibra as their primary suspect
  • On 15 June 2000, Mark Moran was killed by Carl Williams with two bullets as he was getting out of his white Holden utility vehicle, outside his luxury home in Aberfeldie. Moran’s murder was initially thought of as retribution for the death of Frank Benvenuto.
  • 25-year-old Dino Dibra was killed on 14 October 2000, after leaving his house in West Sunshine. At the time he was facing charges relating to kidnap and assault. At a police press conference, Detective Inspector Andrew Allen said “We are confident that this gunman is a hired hitman and that he, along with another person, ambushed Mr Dibra that night about 9.15pm and shot him a number of times … this is not the only murder (the gunman) has committed“. This police profile strongly suggested that “Benji” Veniamin was one of the gunmen. A A$100 000 reward was offered by police for information.
  • George Germanos was shot repeatedly in an Armadale park on 22 March 2001.
  • On 19 May 2001 Carl Williams was re-arrested and charged with drug trafficking and possession. He remained in custody until 17 July 2002 when he was released on bail due to an internal corruption investigation at the Victorian police drug squad.
  • Victor Peirce, 42, was killed on 1 May 2002, while in a car parked opposite the Coles supermarket in Bay Street, Port Melbourne. A white Holden Commodore pulled up beside Peirce, and Peirce exchanged words with the occupants inside the car, before being shot four times at close range. Victor was officially employed as a waterfront worker, however Police believed he was the leader of various drug syndicates in Melbourne and heavily involved with drug trafficking. The death of Peirce heavily impacted the Melbourne underworld. Some media linked Nik Radev with the killing but Police never named any suspects.
  • Alexander Kudryavstev was shot by Michael Goldman on 10 July 2002. Goldman, 55, said he shot to miss a wounded acquaintance on a suburban nature strip despite orders from psychotic criminal, Nik Radev to “finish him”. Goldman said he was “under the gun” and terrified of Radev. Goldman lured Kudryavstev to his Hampton flat and told a Supreme Court jury he was acting like a robot when he shot Mr Kudryavstev in the stomach at the flat. He said Radev told him earlier the same day: “Give him one in the head and I take care of the body.” Goldman, of Highett Road, plead not guilty to the attempted murder of Mr Kudryavstev. The jury heard Mr Kudryavstev, a police informer, was wearing a concealed tape recorder when shot in the abdomen and in the head. He secretly recorded his terrifying brush with death. Goldman shot Mr Kudryavstev in the abdomen as he greeted him at the front door. Mr Kudryavstev said he moved his head when Goldman fired at him on a nature strip near Highett Road. Goldman denied during cross-examination that he knew at the time Mr Kudryavstev was a police informer. He said an angry Radev wanted to meet Mr Kudryavstev over a burglary at a friend’s warehouse. On 27 May 2004 Goldman was jailed for 14 years. Supreme Court judge Justice Robert Redlich ordered Goldman to serve a minimum non-parole term of 11 years. “Your anger and desire to kill him (Mr Kudryavstev) is evident on listening to the tape recording,” said the judge.
  • On 16 October 2002, the body of drug dealer Paul Kallipolitis was found in his West Sunshine home. He was lying on his bed and had one gunshot wound to the head. He clearly knew his killer. Police believe he had been murdered a day earlier and publicly suspected that his one-time-friend Andrew Veniamin was the killer. Veniamin took over Kallipolitis’ drugs business the next day. Veniamin and Kallipolitis had been friends for many years, since they were kids. Kallipolitis shot and killed a man in Deer Park almost a decade earlier after having a gun pulled on him. Angelo Mario Venditti was arrested for this murder on 29 July 2008

2003

  • Nikolai "The Russian" Radev

    Nikolai "The Russian" Radev

    Nik Radev, known as “The Russian”, was killed in Queen St Coburg on 15 April. The known drug dealer and standover man was shot seven times in the head and chest as he sat in his Mercedes-Benz coupé. Victoria Police told The Age that they believed his death was planned by a father and son drug manufacturing team, and a hitman suspected of four other murders carried out the killing in a red sedan. Andrew Veniamin met Radev on the day of the murder and unambiguously fitted the police description of the prime suspect, along with George and Carl Williams. Radev had been warned that he was a marked man but ignored the warnings refusing to believe his friends would turn on him. Damien Cossu and Alfonso Traglia were with Radev at the time of the murder but claimed they could not identify the gunman, and were subsequently named by police as ‘persons of interest’

  • On 6 June 28-year-old male prostitute Shane Chartres-Abbott was shot dead outside his Reservoir home. Underworld assassin Evangelos Goussis confessed to this murder and said two corrupt detectives were linked to the murder.
  • Jason Moran

    Jason Moran

    On 21 June 36-year-old Jason Moran, and his minder, 40-year-old Pasquale Barbaro were shot dead as they sat in a parked blue van outside an Auskick football clinic in Essendon. Five children were witness to the murder including Moran’s six-year-old twin boy and girl. The gunman ran away across the football oval and over a Moonee Ponds Creek footbridge to a waiting vehicle.

  • Small time drug dealer Willie Thompson, 39, was killed on 21 July while sitting in his car after leaving a karate club in Chadstone. Police say the gunman strolled up to the car and shot Thompson dead before escaping with a second person in a stolen Ford sedan. Some bullets were lodged in nearby shops. Thompson’s official occupation was a lollipop vendor inside nightclubs, and a police report said he had recently developed an enmity with Nik Radev.
  • Housam Zayat, 32, was found in a paddock in Tarneit with multiple bullet wounds to the head on 11 September. Zayat was also a close associate of Nik Radev.
  • On 20 October Istvan “Steve” Gulyas, 49, and his defacto wife were found executed in their Sunbury home. Together they ran a dating agency, Partner Search Australia, which Police suspected was a front for a brothel. Gulyas was also a friend of Nik Radev.
  • On 25 October 2003, Michael Marshall was shot outside his luxury South Yarra home in front of his five-year-old son.
  • On 17 November Carl Williams was arrested and charged with making threats to kill a Purana Taskforce detective and the investigator’s girlfriend. The alleged threats were made in a taped phone conversation to Victor Brincat in Barwon Prison. Carl was bailed two weeks later. The arrest was dramatically captured on film by The Age photographer Angela Wylie.
  • 62-year-old Graham Kinniburgh, known as “The Munster”, was ambushed and shot dead outside his home in Kew just after midnight on 13 December. Police said he had been killed in front of family members soon after parking his car. Kinniburgh was carrying a gun and managed to return one shot before being killed. He was considered Melbourne’s most influential criminal at the time of his death. Domenic Gatto was a pallbearer at his funeral, Lewis Moran and many other underworld figures also attended. Andrew Veniamin was treated as a suspect in his murder, and Carl Williams was also questioned.

2004

  • On 23 March Andrew Veniamin was shot dead by Domenic Gatto in the Carlton pizza restaurant “La Porcella” after an argument. Gatto was charged with his murder, Police alleging that Domenic had set a trap for Veniamin. Veniamin was a close associate of Carl Williams and was suspected to be a hitman involved in as many as seven underworld murders. Gatto was later acquitted on the grounds of self-defence.

    Domenic "Mick" Gatto

    Domenic "Mick" Gatto

  • The next victim was 58-year-old Lewis Moran, father of Jason Moran and stepfather of Mark Moran. On 31 March he was shot and killed in broad daylight by two balaclava-clad men in the front bar of the Brunswick Club in Brunswick. Lewis had only recently been released on bail for drug trafficking charges and police had warned him that his life was in danger. The shooting also injured his associate, Bert Wrout.
  • On 8 May the body of Lewis Caine was found dumped in Brunswick street, with a single gunshot wound to the head. He was a friend of Carl Williams and had been seen dining with him two nights earlier. In May 2008, Evangelos Goussis was convicted of killing Lewis Moran in March 2004. Goussis was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years for the Caine murder and in February 2009 was sentenced to life in prison for the Moran killing. He will be eligible for parole in 2039.
  • Terrence and Christine Hodson were found executed in their Kew home on 16 May. Terrence Hodson was revealed to be a police informant. A week before the bodies were found ABC radio reported that a leaked document revealing Hodson as an informant was doing the rounds in certain underworld circles. It is also reported that an associate of Lewis Moran hired Hodson to murder Carl Williams in 2001.
  • Purana Taskforce detectives arrested Carl Williams for conspiracy to murder on 9 June. His associates Sean Sonnet and Gregg Hildebrandt were arrested only metres from the home of Mario Condello. Victoria Police said the raids had “absolutely” saved Mario Condello from becoming the 28th gangland victim.Eight days later Mario Condello and Dominic Gatto’s solicitor, George Defteros, were arrested over a simultaneous plan to murder George Williams and Carl Williams.

2005

  • Antonio Sergi was shot as he sat in his car on 13 November. He was parked just 400 metres from the Moonee Ponds police station. Sergi staggered into the arms of police after he was shot in the chest and both arms. Sergi, 32, of Sydenham, was in a stable condition in hospital, having driven himself to the police station after being shot in The Strand, on the edge of Queens Park, about 1.20 am. He was due to appear in court over ecstasy importation charges.

2006

  • On 6 February, the eve of his murder trial, Mario Condello was shot and killed in his driveway at around 10 pm. Condello had dined with Mick Gatto earlier in the night and police have warned Gatto is under increased risk as this may be the resumption of the gangland war.
  • On 20 March Melbourne business man Tony Mokbel failed to appear in Court during his trial for the importation of cocaine from Mexico in 2000. Mokbel had been granted bail by friendly Magistrate Phillip Goldberg, despite protests from the Police. A warrant was issued for his arrest, but Mokbel had not been seen since 5pm on 19 March. His defence team feared for his life. The week before this date, Mokbel raised concerns for his safety, after an incident not related to this case. He eventually reappeared and was arrested by Greek police in Athens, Greece on 5 June 2007. Mokbel was successfully extradited to Australia on 17 May 2008.
  • On 14 October Michael “Eyes” Pastras was shot once in the buttocks and once in the thigh at a house in Albion St, Brunswick. Pastras gave evidence at Mick Gatto‘s murder trial that he spoke to Andrew Veniamin on 23 March 2004, the day Veniamin was shot dead by Mr Gatto. He said that Veniamin never mentioned anything to him about wanting to harm Mr Gatto. But after testifying, he approached the Purana gangland killing taskforce and made a statement refuting what he said in the witness box. Pastras told Purana detectives he saw Veniamin with a gun when he went to meet Mr Gatto in Carlton’s La Porcella restaurant and that Veniamin told him he wanted Mr Gatto dead. He claimed Veniamin told him: “I am fucking dirty on Mick Gatto. He has got to go.” That evidence was not presented to the jury in the Gatto murder trial. Pastras was named in a confidential Victoria Police document that was blamed for prompting the executions of police informer Terrence Hodson and his wife, Christine in 2004. It contained details of what Hodson told police and was leaked to Melbourne’s underworld shortly before the Hodsons were shot dead in their Kew home in 2004. His brother Savas Pastras was an associate of Lewis Moran. Pastras, 39, turned up at Moran’s Essendon unit on 25 October 2002, not knowing police were inside raiding it. One of the detectives asked Moran’s partner, Virginia Strazdas, who was the man walking up the driveway, and she said he was a friend. Moran’s partner ignored a police command not to warn the man and managed to slightly open the door and tell him to go away. A detective, Senior Constable Victor Anastasiadis, said he opened the door, recognised Pastras and said, “Sav, come in.” He was taken into Moran’s house and a search discovered he had $44,000 in $100 and $50 notes hidden under his jacket in a green plastic bag. After removing the bag, Pastras hunched over and began to shake, he said. Detective Senior Sergeant Marty Allison told the court that Pastras had a look of shock and horror on his face when police confronted him. “He looked as though he had seen a ghost; he couldn’t speak. He opened his mouth but words weren’t coming out,” Senior Sergeant Allison said. Forensic tests revealed the cash showed traces of heroin and cocaine. Savas Pastras was charged with possessing the proceeds of crime. Police alleged the $44,000 was to be paid to Lewis Moran to settle a drug debt. Pastras’s lawyer, Stephen Shirrefs, SC, told the court that the warrant used to conduct the raid on Moran’s home was illegal. “The search of Mr Pastras and the seizure of the money on him only arose because he was invited into the house by police,” Mr Shirrefs said. He said the money could not be deemed proceeds of crime because Moran had not touched the cash and police said it was related to a drug deal “purported to have occurred”. Magistrate Ann Collins ruled in April 2004 that Savas Pastras had no case to answer because police could not prove the money was derived from a crime. Collins cleared Mr Pastras in the Broadmeadows Magistrates Court after finding that police could not prove that the money, stashed in a green plastic shopping bag, had anything to do with the sale of drugs. She also found that police could not prove that traces of heroin and cocaine found on the cash did not come from other sources.

2009

  • On Monday 15 June underworld identity Desmond Moran is shot dead at Ascot Vale in Melbourne’s north-west. Des Moran is the brother of slain underworld figure Lewis Moran, who was murdered in 2004 during Melbourne’s gangland war, and uncle to Mark and Jason Moran, who were also killed in gangland disputes. Des Moran originally escaped serious injury in March 2009 when shots were fired outside his Ascot Vale home. He was in his car with a friend when one shot was fired through the front windscreen, narrowly missing the pair. At the time, a Purana Task Force detective said police did not believe that incident was gangland-related. On Tuesday 16 June Sister-in-Law Judy Moran was arrested and charged along with two other people in relation to the murder.

2010

  • On 19 April 2010, Carl Williams died while incarcerated at Barwon Prison after allegedly being bashed by a fellow inmate, while another was on the phone.His death was the result of a cardiac arrest linked to severe head injuries received during the attack. It is currently unknown as to whether Williams’ death is directly related to previous gangland killings.