Crime in Melbourne

From Academic Kids

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia has a lower crime rate than Sydney (see Crime in Sydney for details), and it is a reasonably safe city by world standards. It has the lowest per capita rate of violent crime of any Australian capital city. However, Melbourne's reputation in the national, and international, media has been tarnished in recent years by a series of organised crime related murders.


Early history

Mark "Chopper" Read told Channel Nine's Sunday program "It goes back to the structure of how the city was first created with the inner city street gangs, they took pride in the fact they came from a slum area and then built a criminal network within that area and controlled the lives of people in that area."


The Melbourne Docklands precinct of the city, currently under redevelopment and urban renewal, was the scene of gang violence and organised crime in the 1960s.

Walsh Street police shootings

In 1988, two police officers were killed in Walsh Street, South Yarra. Victor Peirce and Trevor Pettingill were charged, though later acquitted.

See also, the Moorabbin Police murders.


The Gangland killings are believed to have begun with the murder of 40 year old Alphonse Gangitano on January 16, 1998. Gangitano, seen by some as the leader of the Carlton syndicate, was reportedly shot dead in the laundry of his home, while only in his underwear. According to a coroner's report, Jason Moran and Graham Kinniburgh were believed to be in Gangitano's home in Templestowe when the murder took place. Some media outlets have speculated that Mark Moran was also involved. An associate of Gangitano's was believed to be Victor Pierce, leading to speculation that the gangland killings began as a Peirce - Moran blood feud.

On August 3, 1998, 48 year old John Furlan was killed by a car-bomb.

Next, 42 year old stand-over man Charles Hegyaljie, known as "Mad Charlie", was killed at his Caulfield South home. He was killed November 23, 1998. Dino Dibra was linked to the killing.

Vince Mannella, believed to be a former associate of Victor Peirce and Alphonse Gangitano, was killed on January 9, 1999. Manella has a long history with both Gangitano, reportedly having been caught in an illegal Gangitano gambling ring, in Fitzroy, during the late 1980s. Also found at the underground casino was gangster John William Higgs. On February 22, 1999, the Herald Sun newspaper reported that the hit on Mannella was ordered by a $200m cocaine cartel also linked to the killing of Alphonse Gangitano.

Joseph Quadara, 57, was killed on May 28, 1999

Dimitrios Belias, 38, was killed on September 9, 1999

Vince Mannella's brother, Gerardo, a 31 year old, was killed on January 9, 1999.

Francesco Benvenuto, also known as "Frank Benvenuto", was 52 years old when he died on May 8, 2000. Benvenuto was allegedly an associate of Victor Peirce.

Richard Mladenich, a 37 year old, killed on May 16, 2000.

On June 15, 2000 Mark Moran was killed. Mark's murder was the first suspected to have been committed by hitman Andrew Veniamin.

Dino Dibra, a 25 year old, was killed on October 14, 2000. According to Melbourne's The Age Newspaper (December 31, 2003), 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 profile strongly suggests "Benji" Veniamin was one of the gunmen. An A$100 000 reward was offered, by police, for information.

Victor Peirce, 42, was killed on May 1, 2002 while in a car parked in front of a Port Melbourne supermarket. After the death of Gangitano, some experts speculated that Peirce had taken over control of his crime family. Peirce was also believed to be the ringleader of the Richmond syndicate, with Trevor Pettingill and Peter Allen. The death of Peirce sent shockwaves through the Melbourne underworld. Again, Andrew Veniamin was suspected.

Paul Kallipolitis was murdered on October 15, 2002. Andrew Veniamin is also believed to be the killer.

Nik Radev, known as "The Russian" (in spite of being Bulgarian), was killed on April 15, 2003. The drug dealer and standover man was shot 7 times. In spite of only having worked for 8 months, during the 1980s, at a fish and chip shop, Radev was killed wearing Versace clothing and with a $20 000 watch on. He was laid to rest in a gold-plated coffin. Andrew Veniamin was once again suspected.

During May 2003, Operation Purana was set up by Victoria's state Police to investigate Melbourne's underworld. The state police, and especially its drug squad, would come under heavy criticism of corruption from organised crime families.

On June 21, 2003, Mark's step-brother 36 year old Jason Moran, and his minder, 40 year old Pasquale Barbaro, were shot dead in a car park, while Moran's children sat in the back seat. Victor Brincat was suspected of being the lone hitman behind both murders. Some have speculated that Brincat my have gained A$1 000 000 by killing Moran due to a contract on his head.

Small time drug manufacturer Willy Thompson, 39, was killed on July 21, 2003 while leaving a suburban gym. Thompson reportedly starred in a low-budget movie with friend Dale Reeves.

Mark Mallia, 30, killed August 18, 2003

Housam Zayat, 32, killed September 11, 2003

Michael Marshall was killed on October 25, 2003. Michael Ronald Marshall was the owner of a hot dog stand. He was shot in the front yard of his South Yarra home in front of his five year old son. Marshall was a 'friend' of Willie Thompson, and also a small time drug dealer. Victor Brincat and Thomas Hentschel were charged, by Operation Purana, for his murder.

62 year old Graham Kinniburgh, known as "The Munster", was killed on December 13, 2003. He was believed to have been shot by Andrew Veniamin.

March 2004 Chris Ellison announced the Australian Crime Commission would be investigating the murders. The ACC is a federal law enforcement body, whose role is somewhat similar to America's Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Later that month, in March 2004, Andrew Veniamin - known also as 'Benji' - was shot in the Carlton pizza restaurant "La Porcella". His killer was believed to be Dominic Gatto. He was reportedly an associate - possibly a bodyguard or hitman - of Carl Williams. 'Benji' Veniamin was suspected in 7 underworld murders and was 28 years of age. Gatto claimed to have been unaware of a A$250 000 contract on his own head.

Williams went on the record to news-magazine The Bulletin with a denial that he had paid "Benji" Veniamin A$100 000 for 5 of the murders.

The 23rd victim was Lewis Moran, father of Jason and stepfather of Mark Moran. Lewis was shot dead on April 1st, 2004, just nine days after the death of 'Benji' Veniamin. Lewis was having a drink in a bar at the time. The shooting also injured his associate Herb Wrout.

Major figures still alive

Mark "Chopper" Read

Mark Brandon Read is a figure that has been immortalised in film Chopper, played by actor Eric Bana. He is perhaps the best known figure to have emerged from Melbourne's criminal underworld.

Carl Williams

Many expect Carl Williams to be the next in line, after the death of his associate (and some suspect bodyguard and hitman), "Benji" Veniamin.

Police corruption

The Victorian police force, and Operation Purana in particular, have faced accusations of police corruptions. Investigations have also been hampered by a "code of silence", with few organised crime figures willing to risk their lives to provide details to state and federal authorities. Victoria's state police have also been accused, possibly unfairly, of taking the attitude that eventually the crime figures will wipe themselves out.


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