Melbourne Gang War Update

» 02 July 2009 » In Crime, Travel »

Melbourne Gang War Update

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A brazen gangland murder has shed rare light on Australia’s seamy underworld and captivated the public with surreal details of a mob scene that has already inspired a smash-hit television series.

Desmond “Tuppence” Moran became the latest victim of Melbourne’s notorious crime wars last Monday, when balaclava-clad gunmen surprised him in the Ascot Pasta and Deli Cafe and shot him several times.

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Within hours, police were unravelling an incestuous and amateurish plot allegedly implicating close relatives of the victim and associates with colourful pasts and nicknames to match.

Accused killer Geoffrey “Nuts” Amour appeared in court sporting a black eye, while Moran’s sister-in-law Judy, who arrived at the crime scene within minutes crying “Dessie, Dessie,” has been arrested as an accomplice to murder.

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Police searches reportedly turned up the getaway car, a self-loading rifle, pistols and a wig. Amour’s girlfriend Suzanne Kane, a member of another crime family closely linked to the Morans, was also arrested.

On Tuesday, a mysterious blaze broke out at Judy Moran’s home as she languished in a police cell, prompting suspicions of either a reprisal attack or an attempt to torch evidence. Arson investigators are probing the blaze.

“Fact is almost stranger than fiction with what we’ve seen,” said Victoria police commissioner Simon Overland.

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“If you were a scriptwriter and sat down and wrote this stuff you’d probably say: ‘Look, no, it’s a bit far-fetched. No one will believe it.'”

Newspaper articles have pored over the details, unearthing comment from retired gang figures such as Mark “Chopper” Read, anti-hero of the eponymous 2000 film starring Eric Bana.

“Whoever hatched this plan, it was their first attempt at it. It was a dog’s dinner — a pig’s breakfast of a plan,” he scoffed.

Media have also spoken of the Moran family’s “missing millions” and attempted to untangle the web of murders and grudges that wrapped Melbourne in a nine-year turf war and inspired the popular “Underbelly” TV show.

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The multi-award winning series was one of Australia’s top-rating shows last year, even though it could not be shown in Melbourne because some of the characters depicted were still facing trial in real life.

Among the underworld identities it dramatised was Judy Moran, a flashy 64-year-old blonde known as the family’s matriarch, who lost her husband Lewis and sons Mark and Jason to battles with the rival Williams clan.

Mark was shot outside his home in 2000, while hitmen murdered Jason in 2003 as he picked up his children from a football match, prompting a theatrical graveside threat from his mother.

“All will be dealt with, my darling,” Judy Moran famously vowed as she leant over her son’s coffin.

Husband Lewis, leader of the clan, survived until 2004 when he was chased through the Brunswick Club pub by a shotgun-toting assassin and dispatched as he cowered in a corner.

Kane, the alleged accomplice in Monday’s killing, also has a bloody past, starting from 1978 when she, her mother and her sister were locked in a bedroom by gunmen who executed her father, Les, with machine guns fitted with silencers.

Four years later, Suzanne’s uncle Brian Kane was killed by masked gunmen as he drank in a Melbourne bar, while her sister Trisha is Jason Moran’s widow.

With about 30 dead and gang boss Carl Williams in prison, Melbourne may have thought it had seen the last of its gang wars — until last week.

However, police and experts believe the murder is unlikely to spark another round of killing, speculating that the hit was prompted by simmering bad blood and a row over money.

“It’s just another insane chapter in an insane story. If you told a donkey this, he’d kick you in the head for telling lies,” Chopper Read told the Daily Telegraph.

“No one would believe it. It’s ridiculous.”


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