Judy Moran beside the van in which her son Jason was murdered during the gangland war.
Judy Moran beside the van in which her son Jason was murdered during the gangland war.

Legal scandal tied to gangland war set to erupt

Dozens of criminals will soon claim their convictions were compromised in a development which will expose one of the biggest scandals in Australia's legal history.

A special court is expected to be set up to deal with a flood of appeals from criminals, including several high-profile figures, as a result of police misconduct on an unprecedented scale during Melbourne's gangland war and beyond.

Systemic wrongdoing by the police, which was sanctioned at the highest levels and endangered lives, is due to be detailed as the scandal erupts next week, with calls likely for a Royal Commission to be launched.

The misconduct was prompted by a desperation among police to bring an end to the gangland war, which saw more than 20 underworld figures murdered between 1998 and 2010, including Jason Moran, Andrew 'Benji' Veniamin, Carl Williams and Graham 'The Munster' Kinniburgh.

The conflict stemmed from a vendetta Williams held against the Moran family and the so-called Carlton Crew, leading to a series of often public executions.

The extraordinary revelations could lead to charges for perjury and perverting the course of justice and have political ramifications.

Police Minister Lisa Neville is understood to have been briefed already.

The Smith and Wesson .38 handgun used in the self-defence shooting of Williams hitman Andrew 'Benji' Veniamin during the gangland war.
The Smith and Wesson .38 handgun used in the self-defence shooting of Williams hitman Andrew 'Benji' Veniamin during the gangland war.

 

Carl Williams outside La Porcella restaurant in Carlton in the hours after Veniamin’s death in 2004. Williams was later killed in prison.
Carl Williams outside La Porcella restaurant in Carlton in the hours after Veniamin’s death in 2004. Williams was later killed in prison.

 

Senior police at the time, former politicians and some within the highest levels of the judiciary are expected to face questions about what they knew.

Authorities have spent millions of dollars on the scandal, with police desperate to keep it from the public.

Sir Ken Jones, Victoria's once deputy chief commissioner, is believed to have raised concerns about misconduct issues at the time.

In a 2014 email, Sir Ken warned that the scandal would erupt at some point, saying he had become aware of issues in 2010 and 2011.

He wrote of systemic "abuse of the Victorian criminal court process and distortion of trials over many years. Serious crimes and imprisonable contempts of court committed by amateur police sleuths."

Sir Ken added that it would be said that "some state witnesses, especially police, will have had to perjure themselves".

Sir Ken Jones was deputy chief commissioner and raised concerns about what happened.
Sir Ken Jones was deputy chief commissioner and raised concerns about what happened.

"Potential misconduct issues, at the very least, against many top police," he added.

Sir Ken also said he tried to confront the "mess" and that was why he lost his job.

Senior legal figures have described the police tactics as "out of control".

Several major investigations of crimes committed from around 1999 to 2014 - and resulting convictions - could be impacted.

Criminals still serving time as a result of convictions during the era are hoping the scandal will result in years being wiped off their sentences, with some even overturned.

Compensation claims for millions of dollars could follow.

Andrew Veniamin was thought to have shot dead at least four of the victims.
Andrew Veniamin was thought to have shot dead at least four of the victims.

 

Tony Mokbel went on the run after the gangland war ended, while he was facing drugs charges.
Tony Mokbel went on the run after the gangland war ended, while he was facing drugs charges.

 

Among those murdered during the gangland wars were Jason Moran, shot with minder Pasquale Barbaro, in a van parked at an Auskick football clinic in Essendon, with five children sitting in the back; hot dog vendor and drug dealer Michael Marshall, gunned down in a South Yarra street in front of his five-year-old son; and Carlton Crew member Graham 'The Munster' Kinniburgh, ambushed and executed in his Kew driveway.

Gun-for-hire Andrew 'Benji' Veniamin, who worked for both the Carlton Crew and Williams' mob, was killed in Carlton's La Porcella restaurant by former associate Mick Gatto, acquitted on the grounds of self-defence.

Carl Williams, who ordered at least four and as many as 10 hits during the war, was himself bashed to death with an exercise bike seat stem in Barwon jail in 2010.

Gangland boss Tony Mokbel, who had sided with Williams during the gangland hostilities, also made headlines in 2006 when he disappeared while on bail over drug charges and laid low in Bonnie Doon for about seven months before sailing from Fremantle to Athens on a yacht called the Edwena.

A wigged Mokbel was arrested while hiding out in Greece in June 2007, after 15 months on the run from authorities. He was sentenced to a minimum of 22 years in jail in 2012 for a series of drug importation and trafficking offences.