News, links, analysis and comments on Melbourne's Underworld

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

NUMBER 24, one dead Lewis Moran to go...

MU's own mother has just called to tell us the news- Lewis Moran murdered.

While this doesn't come as a suprise, the timing is critical. Yesterday Benji buried, today Lewis knocked. This murder is somewhat reminiscent of Graeme Kinniburgh's murder (of course, the trigger man in that murder is not the same one as this...!) in that it does not seem to be a murder for financial or business reasons because whatever illegal/legal activities Lewis was involved in was not going to matter- he was out on bail and was due to go court and probably jail too.
In July, Lewis Moran was granted bail with a $1 million surety on charges of trafficking commercial quantities of drugs.

No, this is a "statement" murder. A killing where you put people on notice. Tell everyone that NO ONE IS SAFE.

Looks like Keyser Soze is in business.
CRANE UP to the waist of the unknown man. He pulls a pack of cigarettes out of one pocket and a strange antique lighter from the other. It is gold, with a clasp that folds down over the flint. The man flicks up the clasp with his thumb and strikes it with his index finger. It is a fluid motion,somewhat showy. Keaton looks up at the man. A look of realization crosses his face. It is followed by frustration, anger, and finally resignation.
KEYSER SOZE: How are you, Keaton?

KEATON: I'd have to say my spine was broken, Keyser.
He spits the name out like it was poison.

The man puts the lighter back in his pocket and reaches under his jacket. He produces a stainless .38 revolver.


KEATON: What time is it?
The hand with the gun turns over, turning the gold watch on its wrist upward. The sound of sirens is closer now. Headed this way.
KEYSER SOZE: Twelve thirty.
Keaton grimaces bitterly and nods. He turns his head away and takes another drag. The hand with the gun waits long enough for Keaton to enjoy his last drag before pulling the trigger.


The sound of Keaton's body slumping onto the deck.

Lewis Moran has been SHOT...! Round up the usual suspects

Well, speculation is what we here at MU are all about, and here's our "vibe".
Williams sat one row from the front with an associate, Terry Chimirri, who may have been auditioning for the vacant role of bodyguard. Faruk Orman, a man present in La Porcella the day Benji died, was also present. He has declined to help police flesh out the events of last Tuesday.

Now, we are not saying that "my boy Terry" (to quote Minder) is responsible, but this has to have come from the Williams side of the fence (it is now a Great Wall). If Terry's alibi is even slightly leaky, then the cops will want to bring him in. He won't be talking of course!

But someone will be talking, and NOT to the cops:
A police spokesman said two people were shot shortly before 6.35pm.

The spokesman said one person died at the scene while the other was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a serious condition.
And this person knows who it was, and will be telling their associates as soon as possible. Of course Carl Williams is making hay out of this and really flipping the bird at the opposition. He is using offense as defense- a brilliant tactical move at this time (and MOST unexpected we might say). For all his faults, Carl is a great tactician, in the true Machiavellian tradition:
"If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared..."
"A prince should therefore have no other aim or thought, nor take up any other thing for his study but war and it organization and discipline, for that is the only art that is necessary to one who commands."

-"The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli

Expect MAJOR, BIG, CRAZY fucking madness to ensue. This is going to be like Apocalypse Now:
COLONEL KURTZ (on tape): We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Pig after pig, cow after cow, village after village, army after army. And they call me an assasin. What do you call it when the assasins accuse the assasin ? They lie.. they lie and we have to be merciful for those who lie. Those nabobs. I hate them. How I hate them...

Yes folks this is going to be BIG:
Kilgore picks up the radio :
KILGORE: Goddamn, I want that treeline bombed !

FAC PILOT: Roger. Standby.

KILGORE: Bomb them into the stoneage, son.

FAC PILOT: They need some napalm on that treeline down there. Can you put it down there ?

F-5 PILOT: Roger. We'll suppress some mortar fire off the treeline down there.

FAC PILOT: Roger. Give all you got and bring all your ships back.

KILGORE: Don't worry, we'll have this place cleaned up and ready for us in a jiffy son, don't you worry.

FAC PILOT: Jets will bomb in 30 seconds. Get your people back and heads down. This is gonna be a big one.

Never get out of the boat!
The Age-Carl Williams says he's not bloody next eh!
The Age- Witness reported gunshots
Benji Buried-
Lewis Moran murdered - SpecialsGanglandKillings -
The Age -Police warned Moran some time ago
The Moran Family- profile
Apocalypse Now! script

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Big Brother was listening

Through to the keeper

This little tasty snippet nearly got through:
A former law clerk threatened to sue a police officer if he did not reduce the number of criminal charges against his client, a jury heard yesterday.

The County Court was told that Helmut Kirsch, along with another law clerk, Ali Aydin, had threatened Detective Senior Constable Benjamin Archbold in July 2001 in a bid to influence the criminal case against Housam Zayat.

Prosecutor Andy Moore said Aydin and Kirsch were trying to frighten Mr Archbold so he would "go soft with their client".

This is the same Ben Archbold from Australian Big Brother. He claimed to have participated in BB order to be hidden from the underworld. TV is the best spot...

There was also this small problem as well:
Benjamin Archbold also reportedly had been threatened by Nikolai Radev, a known criminal who was shot dead earlier this month.

The threats to Mr Archbold, who moved to the Gold Coast from Victoria, were apparently made by Radev during a court hearing well before his shooting.

So who knocked Radev again?
Age article from Ben's time in BB

And listened to the sounds

of silence

The Victoria Police, whilst only having limited success in pinning down those responsible for the recent 25 odd underworld murders, are at least giving it a go. But MU does question what they are hoping will happen here:
Witnesses to the fatal shooting of underworld figure Andrew "Benji" Veniamin may be forced to give evidence, after police detectives today asked a court for compulsory examinations.
Police today lodged an application in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in an attempt to try and break the notorious criminal code of silence around Melbourne's 23 unsolved gangland murders.

The application would require witnesses to be questioned in court at a later date."

Well a court order will loosen their tongues for sure!
Prosecutor Geoff Horgan, SC, told the court that four men - who are believed to have been present at the time of the shooting or immediately before it - had refused to make statements.

"It is believed a number of people were observers of events shortly prior to the shooting taking place and those are the people some of whom were in the vicinity or in the restaurant shortly prior," he said.

He said that Ronald Bongetti, Faruk Orman, Steve Kaya and Geoffrey Reading had refused, three times, to make a statement to the homicide squad investigating the murder.

I imagine they will eventually get statements of some description, once the boys have had the chance to get together and work out exactly what did happen...

We've done our time..

and we'll never be naughty again

WEll, NOT as it happens:
Hizir Ibery Ferman, 22, of Port Melbourne, and Robert Daniel Musso, 25, of Mill Park, were on parole on December 19 last year when they were pulled over by the police Special Operations Group in suburban Reservoir and found to be carrying a semi-automatic pistol and .38 calibre revolver.

Judge Tom Wodak sentenced the pair to 12 months in jail to be served cumulatively with remaining time on previous sentences for armed robbery and attempted armed robbery.

As they were led from the court, Ferman turned to a Purana Taskforce detective and shouted: "You reckon 12 months is going to stop me, you dog".

Musso added "You fucking rat".

But we hope and pray here at MU that they boys have time to reflect on the gravity of their crimes and repent and rebuild their lives. Maybe find Jesus too.

Andrew "Benji" Veniamin buried

The stupidity of some never ceases to amaze.

Carl carries the coffin- click for fullsize
RIP Benji: Carl carries Andrew "Benji" Veniamin this morning.Photo: Jason South, The Age
Benji sailed close to the wind. He died as he lived. People find that fascinating. The media report on these fascinating people and events. Some sad losers even start a blog about it. So why sould it come as a suprise that the media would turn up at the funeral?
Reporters covering the funeral were attacked by a group of youths who pelted them with eggs and other objects.

One cameraman was also hit by a golf ball. He was not seriously injured.

The media was ushered to the end of the street by friends of Veniamin.

Those who strayed were told in no uncertain terms to get back with the rest of the pack.

Sure the kids are angry, looking to lash out. But the media didn't pull the trigger.

The weather was mixed, making sunglasses unecessary. But they were still worn but the greater majority of the crowd. Onlookers and bystanders were all looked over by watchful eyes- cops, mourners, strong arm men in suits (the same ones that Keyser has sworn to go after?) and the media.

It was, as all of these events tend to be, a surreal experience.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Anyone got 40 cents?

Victor uses his one phone call-

to call The Herald Sun:
VENIAMIN. _ Andrew. Andrew, one of lifes finest, what a pleasure to have known you. I will remember all the good times we had.
Gone but never forgotten_ Your friend and comrade
always, Victor.

And in COMPLETELY unrelated news:
A magistrate yesterday refused a police application to take a DNA sample from a prime suspect in the Jason Moran murder to compare to genetic material on the gun dropped near the murder scene.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Dan Muling ruled that police evidence linking underworld figure Victor Brincat to the scene of Moran's murder and another underworld slaying was not strong enough to warrant the compulsory forensic test.

Brincat, 43, and alleged criminal associate Thomas Hentschel, 41, are behind bars, charged with the October 2003 murder of former kickboxer and amphetamines dealer Michael Ronald Marshall, 38.

The Age- DNA test refused

Mr Williams, come in

...your time is up

When John Silvester, ace crime reporter says the following about the Purana taskforce:
they don't believe the war ended with Benji's death. Just days ago they learnt that some criminals were planning an attack on Williams. And while Williams remains philosophical on a potential ambush he is not without friends.

...then you know Carl is deeply, utterly, forever in the shit.
Bad business as usual - SpecialsGanglandKillings -

Friday, March 26, 2004

...from the "No Suprises" files

The head of the Purana Taskforce denies the investigation into Melbourne's underworld slayings has been tainted by corruption.

Two police officers have been suspended amid allegations of corruption, one of whom used to be in charge of monitoring phone taps.

The officers are not connected to a separate probe into corruption within the former drug squad, which has so far seen two detecitves jailed and another dozen charged.

It is understood the move forced the Purana Taskforce to shift its phone tap operations to the Ethical Standards Department.

MU is adopting a "wait and see" attitude about this for the moment, but it's not a suprise. The Bad Eggs are still there in the Police, stinkin' the joint up, protected by the stunned Mulletts.
ABC News item

Stop the presses!

VICTORIAN building unions are under investigation for extorting money from contractors and employers in return for industrial peace, a report tabled in Federal Parliament yesterday said.

Whoa, that IS news!
The Age, on Mick Gatto:
At the building industry royal commission in 2002 he was named as a standover man - and alternatively as an "industrial consultant" - over his role in a site agreement at the National Gallery of Victoria redevelopment project.

Gatto, who runs a company called Arbitrations and Mediations Pty Ltd and is also believed to have an interest in a crane company, protested at being labelled an underworld figure.

The figure bandied about id $250,000 paid to Gatto's company.

Nice work of you can get it!

More Notices For Benji

The blue light was my blues and the red one
...was my mind.
Roberta Williams and friends, Daughter Dhakota... NO CARL...?
VENIAMIN. _ Andrew. 16.11.1975_23.3.2004
My mind is numb, but my memory is clear of all the times we shared. I will miss everything about our friendship, especially my daily phone calls "Hello my friend". The promises I made to you my friend as you made to me if the tables were ever turned, I promise you my precious little friend. Our love and our friendship was something very rare, I loved you and always will. You once told me we were no different than a brother and a sister and that it doesnt have to be blood that joins you as family because we were that. My friend Andrew, you will always be in my heart and memory, because the times we shared would never be forgotten. My heart is broken, you will never be replaced. Fly high in the sky my precious angel. I love you always and forever. Condolences to the family. _ Roberta Williams.

Uncle Andrew, I will miss our holidays in Yarrawonga, but more than anything I will miss you. I love you, I will never forget you. My Mummy and Daddy will keep your memory alive. Always _ Your precious
little Dhakota Williams.

"My Mummy and Daddy will keep your memory alive.." What does that mean eh? Care to specualte?

And finally, a menacing, fake-ish notice turns up. Let's deconstruct this one- It warrants it:
VENIAMIN. _ Benji. What can I say. You made me welcome and showed me kindness, friendship and good times and I am forever grateful.

So Benji introduced you to Carl et al eh?
There is only one place for men in suits. All shall be done for you. Goodbye buddy.
Save me a seat. _ Kaiser Sozef.
Deepest condolences to all your family. Rest in peace

What men in suits? Not the guys who turned out to see Mick Gatto's Magi's hearing yesterday not them, surely?

Who is Keyser Soze?

He is a fictional character, from the movie "The Usual Suspects". The character you are about to hear from is Verbal Kent. He describes the "myth" of Soze. See the movie for more!
SCENE: In a police station, VERBAL is being questioned about who the mysterious character "Keyser Soze" is...
VERBAL: He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. One story the guys told me - the story I believe - was from his days in Turkey. There was a petty gang of Hungarians that wanted their own mob. They realized that to be in power you didn't need guns or money or even numbers. You just needed the will to do what the other guy wouldn't. After a while they come to power, and then they come after Soze He was small time then, just running dope, they say...

SCENE:Three of the Hungarians come bursting into Keyser Soze's home. They grab his five children and round them up in the front room. One of the men grabs his wife and back-hands her across the face.
VERBAL: They come to his home in the afternoon looking for his business. They find his wife and kids in the house and decide to wait for Soze.

He comes home to his wife raped and his children screaming. The Hungarians knew he was tough. Not to be trifled with. So they let him know they meant business.

SCENE: They kill his child in front of him.
The REAL Keyser Soze
The Real Keyser: Kevin Spacey plays the mysterious Verbal Kent and...?

VERBAL: They tell Soze they want his territory - all his business. Soze looks over the faces of his family... Then he showed these men of will what will really was.

SCENE: SUDDENLY, Soze pulls out a pistol and shoots the two men with guns. He turns and aims at the third man holding his child. The man threatens to cut the child's throat, slicing just enough to draw blood.


The stunned Hungarian watches the child fall from his arms.

Soze turns the pistol on the next child, then the next and the next. He kills his children one by one in front of the Hungarian.
VERBAL: He tells him he would rather' see his family dead than live another day after this.

SCENE: SOZE walks over to his wife, crying and beaten on the floor and holds up her head. She gives him the strangest look. One of trust perhaps, saturated with fear and humiliation.

He puts the gun between her eyes and fires.
VERBAL: He lets the last Hungarian go, and he goes running. He waits until his wife and kids are in the ground and he goes after the rest of the mob. He kills their kids, he kills their wives, he kills their parents and their parents' friends.

He burns down the houses they live in and the stores they work in, he kills people that owe them money. And like that he was gone. Underground. No one has ever seen him again. He becomes a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night. If you rat on your pop, Keyser Soze will get you. And nobody really ever believes.

AGENT KUJAN: Do you believe in him, Verbal?

VERBAL: Keaton always said: "I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him." Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser SOZE.

Whlie we here at MU understand and LOVE the movie, we are not so certain of the implications of the message. Are we going to see killings of the magnitude that Keyser's revenge required? Is this "Keyser" really Carl Williams? If this is Carl is he in effect saying that he is prepared to sacrifice his family? Is he really going to show "these men of will what will really" is? MU concedes this may be the extreme end of the "Soze" story, but God help us all if he ain't kidding.

What is next here?

Full script- The Usual Suspects
The Usual Suspects- IMDB profile

Herald Sun: Heat put on accused killer to talk [26mar04]

... the dreams in which I'm dying

Cartoon from The Australian
Cartoon: Not exactly funny, but then death isn't a laughing matter...
POLICE pressured the accused killer of a suspected underworld hit man to break the criminal code of silence over Melbourne's gangland murders.

Now, gentle reader, I ask you, is Dominic "Mick" Gatto likely to say a word about anyone or anything and break a lifetime habit?

Not bloody likely!

While Mick might be in jail as we blog, yesterdays analysis [scroll down] shows that perhaps a self defence argument might create reasonable doubt. So Mick has nothing to gain by naming names, and beside, he'd do serious time before he'd say a word. It appears the cops had met with Mick a number of times recently, but that's not unusual here, they often do and they rarely get squat.
OMBUDSMAN Bob Seamer said there could be links between the gangland killings and corruption in the police drug squad.

Well DUH! This alone could take up 10000 words, but here's the short version:
Is there a link between the Murders and the Drug squad charges?

Alternative title- "Is Your Head Up Your Arse?"
4 Corners [ABC TV]:
JONATHAN HOLMES: Tonight on Four Corners, the trap that was set for the speed dealers that instead has caught the Victoria Police in a tangled web of corruption.

The Melbourne underworld has been busy lately burying its dead. Whatever the myths may say, there's little honour among thieves. Drugs provide the money. Money provides the motive. There have been 22 gangland killings in the past six years. Last June, they buried Jason Moran, a member of one of Melbourne's most notorious crime families. Three years earlier, his half-brother Mark had met the same fate. But police have met the customary wall of silence - even from the man the Moran brothers are said to have shot in the stomach in 1999.

CARL WILLIAMS: They say it happened over money - that I was shot, everything like that. As I said, I don't know anything - who I was shot by, why I was shot.

JONATHAN HOLMES: You don't know who shot you?


JONATHAN HOLMES: Did you have your eyes shut or what?

CARL WILLIAMS: Yeah, I've got no idea who shot me. It's, you know...

JONATHAN HOLMES: It's nothing to do with you that those two men are dead now?

CARL WILLIAMS: Nothing to do with me.

JONATHAN HOLMES: Carl Williams hasn't been charged with any of Melbourne's underworld killings. But he is facing a charge of threatening to kill a policeman and two separate charges of major drug trafficking. Normally, he'd be remanded in prison to await trial. But he's free on bail. Many other people charged with major drug trafficking offences have also been set free - temporarily, at least. Among them: Milad Mokbel, charged with possessing the proceeds of crime - case struck out. His brother, Tony Mokbel, charged with trafficking and importing cocaine and hundreds of kilos of pseudoephedrine - free on bail, pending trial. Lewis Moran, Mark and Jason's father, charged with trafficking ecstasy, hashish and speed - free on bail, pending trial. David McCulloch, charged with conspiracy to traffic - free on bail, pending trial. And Carl Williams's father George, facing charges of trafficking speed - free on bail, pending trial.

GEORGE WILLIAMS: The Drug Squad are corrupt was brought out that the Drug Squad WAS corrupt.

JONATHAN HOLMES: The reason - their trials have been delayed while some of the the police whose evidence would be crucial to their prosecution are themselves in prison, or facing charges, or under investigation.

While there is not direct link between the corrupt coppers and the murders- here is the truth. No meaningful drug investigations are underway in Victoria at the moment. It's a free for all. There are crims out on bail, crims who will not get convicted for crimes they have committed (and the juries will be right to not convict crims accused by other crims -THE POLICE!) While the selling of raw materials for speed is a dangerous way to catch crooks, it can be done ethically and without corruption. What was missing here was any real permission, supervision and then combined with outrageously corrupt police. And now, Victoria's Chief Commisioner has kicked an own goal:
JONATHAN HOLMES: ... the new Chief Commissioner ordered a review of the Drug Squad and formally put a stop to controlled chemical delivery.

CHRISTINE NIXON, CHIEF COMMISSIONER: That it occurred at all is entirely inappropriate. And so that's why as soon as I became aware of it, we stopped it. I saw it as one of the most risk...risky strategies possible, and it'll never start again in Victoria Police.

Quick announcement to all speed cooks- ANY RAW MATERIALS YOU BUY ARE NOT FROM THE POLICE! Nothing fear, great idea Christine!

As stated earlier here on MU, it appears the Williams family are running some sort of media campaign that has all the hallmarks of a media liaison/publicist being involved. Four Corners again:
JONATHAN HOLMES: Williams is keen to portray himself as a normal family man. More importantly, he wants the chance to air allegations against the Victoria Police Drug Squad. For example, he claims that in May 2001 he was subjected to death threats by a Drug Squad detective.

CARL WILLIAMS: I'm taken from there past the police station down to a park, where I'm told I'm gonna be killed. "This is where you're gonna die, be killed." There was a big shipping container next to where they were pointing at.

JONATHAN HOLMES: Carl's father George also claims to be a quiet family man with a modest bungalow, an elaborate security system and a heap of allegations about police corruption. Like many others that Four Corners heard, most can't be aired in Victoria for fear of prejudicing future trials. George Williams has already complained to the Ombudsman that the Drug Squad stole thousands of dollars from his home. The complaint was not upheld.

GEORGE WILLIAMS: They was invited into my house. They're supposed to be upholding the law and they can rob your house. The money was there. And when the police left, the money weren't there. Now, I don't know if Casper the Ghost came and got it, but...someone got it.

JONATHAN HOLMES: For years, there have been these allegations of large sums of money being stolen, of large amounts of drugs being stolen, of some criminals being greenlighted and others not. And now those kinds of allegations that was always dismissed before as just what criminals say are beginning to be believed. They are being believed by the courts, by judges, by the public. That's got to be a problem for you.

CHRISTINE NIXON: No. They're also being believed by the police. I mean, we have major resources investigating these areas now. I don't have any reason to not investigate these matters. Why would I want to cover up corruption in Victoria Police? I come from here. I don't have any reason to. And so what we're doing is throwing as many resources in the most effective manner we can at these investigations.

It is, to say the least, a great big shitty mess. Crims running around on bail, cops acting in unethical, criminal ways and a Chief Commissioner who can't or won't stand up to them and a Police Minister with his head in the sand. Meanwhile, the Police Assoc walk a fine line between protecting their members, and protecting crooked coppers:
JONATHAN HOLMES: The Chief Commissioner insists that decisive action has already been taken. In late 2001, she disbanded the Drug Squad and replaced it with the Major Drug Investigation Division, the MDID, with new processes and systems. But she wasn't able to pick the members of the MDID with the freedom she wanted. The powerful Police Association insisted on the letter of existing employment agreements.

CHRISTINE NIXON: I think the Association, um, has a particular position to take and members to protect. I, on occasions, wish that they might think of the greater good rather than specific individuals, but that's not the way they see it.

PAUL MULLETT, SECRETARY POLICE ASSOCIATION: We don't want to get into an argument with the Chief Commissioner on this. What we want to say is with the Chief Commissioner, we supported the vast majority of the recommendations. Those recommendations were changes to work practices of the Drug Squad, issues to do with industrial agreements the Chief Commissioner herself would recognise that she has to comply with as the employer.

Well thats big of you Paul, now we have a structure we can agree on, how 'bout the letting the Chief Commissioner decide the personel? Not Bloody likely!
JONATHAN HOLMES: Peter Faris, prominent QC, former director of the National Crime Authority and populist weekly broadcaster, believes the Police Association has the Government running scared.

PETER FARIS QC: It's probably the most powerful trade union in Victoria. The Government's terrified of them. The Government should have stood behind Nixon and said, "These are the changes the Commissioner wants. They're going to happen, regardless of what the police union wants." So it's a lack of willpower on the part of the Government to stand behind the Chief Commissioner of Police. And that's a worrying thing.

Gentle reader, does your local council consult with the garbo about the best way remove rubbish? Do we let kids run their schools? No we dont! So why in God's name do we give the Police Assoc. a say in the way the police force is run here in Victoria.
From the Police Assoc's own website:
The Police Association was formed in 1917 due to police concerns over poor working conditions. At this time the Victoria Police Force received the lowest rate of pay of any Force in Australia and only 17 days annual leave compared with 28 days in New South Wales. In addition, a superannuation scheme providing police with pensions on retirement had been abandoned by the State Government in 1902 and was not reintroduced until 1923.

Following its formation, the Association worked on behalf of its members to obtain improved wages and working conditions. However, it was not until 1923 that the organisation was officially recognised by the Police Regulation (Pensions) Act.

Since this time, the Association has grown in size and stature and currently negotiates with the Chief Commissioner of Police and the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services and other relevant organisations on behalf of its members.

So why don't you do what your own mission statement outlines? The first two paragraphs are your raison d'etre, yet all you seem to do now is "negotiate"with the Chief Commissioner of Police and the Ministry for Police and Emergency Services and other relevant organisations on behalf of its members. Sure, worry about your members conditions, pay, super and the numbers of Police. Protecting all memebers even if blind freddy knows they are crooked coppers? Take that outside son!

JONATHAN HOLMES: Partially as a result of the Police Association's opposition, many members of the old Drug Squad have been retained in the new MDID. And a very recent case suggests that could be a problem. Just last September, an operation codenamed Galop was targeting a major ecstasy ring. They'd placed a house in Oakleigh East under surveillance. Inside, they believed, were large quantities of drugs or cash or both. A raid was imminent. But on the night of 27 September, the house was burgled and local police arrested two men nearby. One of them turned out to be an MDID detective, a member of the Operation Galop team and a veteran of the old Drug Squad's Unit 2. The other was his long-term police informer. They were charged with stealing a large quantity of drugs worth well over $1 million. The detective's boss, a sergeant in the MDID, has been charged as a co-conspirator. The new Assistant Commissioner (Crime) concedes that the charges have an all-too-familiar ring to them.

SIMON OVERLAND: Yes, that's right. And as you've pointed out, that matter is before the court and it's difficult, in those circumstances, for me to comment about that.

JONATHAN HOLMES: But surely...

SIMON OVERLAND: If those allegations were shown to be true - that's IF they're shown to be true - we would have to concede a mistake was made in that case.

Honestly what can you say about this without a string of extreme profanity? We here at MU do not believe that ALL members of the old Drug Squad are corrupt, but they are sure as shit doing everything they can to give that distinct impression.
Herald Sun: Heat put on accused killer to talk [26mar04]
Former drug squad head Wayne Strawhorn in courtThe Speed Trap- ABC 4 Corners
The Police Assoc. of Victoria

Thursday, March 25, 2004


Why we are here

This brand new blog is "dedicated" to the life, times and more often than not, the deaths of Melbourne Underworld figures. It will include more than just news on the Melbourne crime scene, but also analysis of what's going on, speculation and so on.

If you are from Melbourne, Australia, you might wanna click away, given that reading speculation might preclude you appearing on a jury.

But then again, not being on a jury might be a Good Thing (tm)...

"Benji" goes down

From The Age's website (link below):
A man with connections to Melbourne's criminal underworld was killed today in a shooting outside a restaurant in inner Melbourne.

The victim, known as Andrew "Benji" Veniamin, was shot at a Carlton restaurant, police sources told The Age.

Ambulance spokesman James Howe said the emergency service received a call to attend the scene of a shooting near the corner of Faraday and Rathdowne streets shortly before 3pm (AEDT).

Police refused to confirm the identity of the victim but said a man was being held in custody over the incident.

A little history on Benji and friends
Photo Courtesy of The Age
Crime scene: White fingerprint dust litters the restaurant table near where underworld figure Andrew Veniamin was killed as police warned his associate, accused drug baron Carl Williams, he may be the next victim of Melbourne's underworld war. Photos: Angela Wylie, THE AGE

The day after his arrest Williams appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court. One friend winked and called out to Williams to keep his chin up. The friend, known as Benji, has been implicated in several unsolved murders.

So Carl Williams bodyguard and mate has been killed. Williams himself said that he might be killed. Everything points to this being inevitable now.

The Sunday program (link below) recently broadcast a segment about the underworld murders and the Williams family in particular featured. Carl and Williams tried to infer that they were just an ordinary suburban family- somehow caught up in this underworld gangland thing:

Roberta WilliamsCarl Williams' constant companion, Andrew "Benji" Veniamin, is also a suspect in several gangland hits. But once again, according to Roberta, everyone has it wrong. She says Benji is just misunderstood: "He's a good quiet guy who’s great with kids, loves the kids. I don't leave my children with anybody and I would leave them with Andrew before I would leave them with anybody else."

While watching it one couldn't help ask the question "Have they hired a media liaison or publicist?" It was, to say the least, a very "front foot" (cricket!) move.

Adam Shand from "Sunday" "Andrew stays very close to Carl, is he a bodyguard?" She replied: "No, Andrew's a friend and a good friend at that. We go shopping together Andrew and I … and we go shopping with the kids. He's certainly not a bodyguard."
Well, his "non-bodyguard-just-a-good-friend" days are over forever.
Sunday again:
ADAM SHAND: And who might be next to go in this tragic comedy is the question all the underworld is asking. Could it be Lewis Moran, the patriarch who has lost his sons, Mark and Jason? It might be Carl Williams or maybe “Benji” will take a bullet for his boss. Williams is obviously well aware of the precarious position he is now in.
Carl Williams- in red and in trouble- Photo Courtesy of The Age
Carl Williams. In one of the more bizarre moments following Benji's death, he flagged down a passing motorist (unknown to him) and got them to drive him away. He got out and then hid in the toilets of a service station. Is this the action of a tough guy gangster, or a man running scared?
Benji's name has been mentioned as the killer of Mark Moran but it didn't stop him placing a death notice in the Herald Sun that read "You are a true sincere gentleman never to be forgotten - Love Benji".

The Age again:
Carl Williams, another well-known underworld figure who is on bail after being charged with threatening to kill a policeman and his partner and with drug offences, appeared at the scene some time after the shooting.

Reporters attempted to question Williams who ran off and locked himself in a toilet at a nearby service station before being whisked away by a friend who arrived in a car.

I think one can assume that the driver of the car was wife Roberta Williams.

The ABC website is reporting it as follows:
It is believed the man helping police with their inquiries is Mick Gatto, a former boxer and an associate of Jason Moran and Graham Kinniburgh, both of whom were gunned down last year.

Police say two men got into an argument inside the restaurant moments before the shooting.
This doesn't have all the hallmarks of a hit (more on that below). It was very public, an argument involved and then a shooting. At a guess I'd say it was spontaneous or an unlucky coincidence. It seems that one group (Williams et al) kicked off this round of killing and can't finish the job. Carl is alone without Brincat and Benji. Will he act alone now? His bolt to the toilets shows he won't. He's either dead or nothing.

And the Underworld don't let you retire gracefully.

How did/might this have played out?

Herald Sun:
"Mr Gatto and friends were eating a late lunch and sipping coffees about 2.40pm at La Porcella restaurant.

Veniamin, known in underworld circles as Benji, double-parked his sports car and ran into the restaurant on the corner of Faraday and Rathdowne streets.

According to witnesses, Veniamin confronted Mr Gatto, an underworld heavyweight and former boxer widely known as "Mick" and a staunch supporter of the Moran clan and friend of Kinniburgh."

Andrew 'Benji' Veniamen- dead at 28
Andrew 'Benji' Veniamen- dead at 28.
MelbUnderworld Analysis: This does not have the hallmarks of a hit. Only on TV do you shoot people in public to make a statement. Benji, for reasons no one can state, decided to go and get himself shot. I don't know about you, but if I was Benji, I wouldn't have gone NEAR Mick Gatto et al. These guys (underworld) do not go around unarmed EVER. Double parking and then going into the restaurant to mouth off? He must have been believing his own bullshit. Maybe killing a few people makes you think you are bullet proof..? Mouthing off to Mick Gatto (as he appears to have done) when you are rumoured to have killed Kinniburgh is just insane. Mick Gatto was a close associate of Kinniburgh- he carried his coffin for god's sake. But there is a question that remains- why was Benji in the restaurant in the first place, and was Gatto expecting him? It would appear so:
Herald Sun:
"Yesterday the lunch crowd at the restaurant, at the corner of Rathdowne and Faraday streets, had almost petered out by 2.30pm.

One insider described the regular patron as "tense" in the moments leading to the shooting.

"He wasn't his usual self," the source said.

"Mick is a pretty jolly fellow, but he wasn't as friendly as he normally is.

"He was very serious looking. I don't know if he was looking for something to happen. People here are always looking over their shoulder."

About 2.40pm Veniamin double-parked outside the restaurant, leaving his silver sports car idling as he ran inside.

During a violent struggle, it is alleged that Mr Gatto shot him. "

Note the line "leaving his silver sports car idling as he ran inside..." Not the actions of a man expectying to enjoy a few hours in Gatto's company. Car going, running in. Urgency.

In a twisted sort of way, one can understand Williams taking out the opposition. The Morans had already tried to kill him when they shot him in '99. So fair enough he knocks them. Knocking Marshal, Radev, Dibra, Mallia, Thompson (there are more, but hey, time is of the essence here!) may have been pure business decisions too, but knocking off Kinniburgh was just pure gangster showmanship. Analogy? You are the new kid at school looking to make your mark. You seek out the toughest, biggest kid in the school and king hit him when no one's around. Then you hope like fuck that's enough to scare everyone else off.

It didn't.

It seems the Underworld tolerated Williams et al (Brincat, Benji) going around and knocking off the competition, but the killing of Kinniburgh made it very personal, and perhaps "something" had to be done. The options for Gatto's crew: knock Williams et al, or call a truce. As John Silvester pointed out, there is money to be made and long term you can't go around knocking each other ad infinitum. At some stage there will be a vacuum. Carl Williams has moved partiallly into this vacuum over the past few years. Stoppping this murderous flood seems logical for all parties. But logic doesn't always get a run. Herald Sun:
IT WAS revealed Mr Williams and his bodyguard, Veniamin, were seen in a heated argument with Mr Gatto at Crown casino, days after the death of Kinniburgh.

"Heated argument"? Perhaps Gatto was making overtures about a truce? He seems the most likely person to make this approach. But Williams crew seem to have the upper hand, so whats in it for them? Power and all that.
Added to the psycholgical sustenance, it seems ol' Benji was fond of the sponsors product. This email sent to MU:
I Was in line with Benji out the front of the Magistrates court a couple of weeks ago. His Celtic tattoos on his arms were doing somersaults they were on that much gooey. *

*goey= Speed.
Seems this may have some truth, as Benji became a LOT erratic lately. Herald Sun:
But Veniamin was a known hothead, who sources said started "going nuts and losing the plot" about eight months ago.

"He was getting carried away, driving his $200,000 Mercedes while tooled up (carrying a gun)," a former detective told the Herald Sun.

"He wouldn't leave home without a rosco (gun). He wouldn't even go to the bathroom without one. He was paranoid, and a lot of people started distancing themselves because he was getting out of control and upsetting people left, right and centre."

MU Says: If one was to guess, it looks like they (Gatto's people) might have been calling a truce. Gatto is low profile. Sure he's high profile by our standards, but low profile as a crim. If he wanted to knock Benji, he just would have done it- and Carl and probably the wife too. Nomally she'd be ok (on account of the kids) but she's high profile now too. Hard to say.
Mick Gatto- Landscaper, negotiator, man about town. Charged with the murder of Andrew "Benji" Veniamen.

Ok so you call a meeting. It seems that Williams didn't know about it or was DELIBERATELY distancing himself by "dropping Benji home" (a lie: Benji never leaves his side. On their QLD holiday Benji not only went with Carl and Roberta, he even went bodysurfing with Carl- and he can't fucking swim!). Carl has form when it comes to alibis- he was out getting drunk in a restaurant with his lawyer the night Kinniburgh got whacked too! Good public show is the best alibi when someone else is doing your dirty work.

Anyway so they call a meeting for a truce. Carl has no intention of going. Gatto chooses his highly visible restaurant hangout coz he thinks it's safe. Benji just rocks in without Carl, without any goodwill about a truce, full of goey and tooled up, ready to rock. He says "Gatto you and your mob are fucking finished, fuck off" a gun is produced, a shot gets fired... bye bye Benji.

We'll see. The truth might never get a run...

The Death Notices

When an Underworld figure gets killed, it's a tradition to send in fake messages from people who that person has knocked. Here at MU we're keeping a close eye on the Herald Sun for such messages.

So for, it's been family and friends only. Silence from the Williams', but this very interesting note from his girlfriend:
VENIAMIN. _ Andrew.
I never thought someone I used to be so scared of, could turn out to be my oxygen. Despite what everyone thought of me, you stood by me. You were my life Benji. I love you. See you in Heaven babe. _ Ebony.

"someone I used to be so scared of", "despite what everyone thought of me", "See you in heaven.."?
VENIAMIN. _ Andrew.
Benji, my true friend, youre always in my heart. This isnt the end, you're one of a kind. A true soldier, respect and loyalty you were one honest beholder. Ill see you in Heaven cause thats where you are. Youre my angel. Love forever
_ Chris O_.

Wishful thinking re: benji in heaven. Underworld families are always keen to tell everyone "He's heaven" when he's clearly not. Benji might have been an angel to some, but there are one or two or more people who are not around today thanks to his trigger work. How bout we leave the finals decision to say... God?

That said, it looks like ol' Chris O is out for revenge: "This isn't the end". It's a gangland tradition to announce your intentions via the death notices. Always and ONLY in the Herald Sun too!

We here at MU like Kath Pettingill's line about going to heaven or not:
"I'm not going to heaven and I'm glad. I wouldn't know anyone"

Touchè, Kath.

By the way- I'd say I am off the jury in these cases. If you read these words- you are too...
Full coverage- The Age
Full coverage- The Herald Sun
The Sunday program
The Sunday Program transcript
The Age- Wise guys, tough guys, dead guys
Dominic "Mick" Gatto profile on
Mick Gatto's recent "work"
Melbourne Crime website- Updated with some detail of Benji