Melbourne’s gangland killings stats, a who’s who of Melbourne’s
underworld, plus Andrew “Benji” Veniamin, the last day in the life of a
hitman.
Sparked by the 1998 murder of Alphonse Gangitano, Melbourne’s gangland
killings have shown little sign of ending in the last six years with a
string of 21 killings and reprisal killings taking in a 25-year-old and
a 62-year-old.

However, the latest shooting of hitman Andrew “Benji” Veniamin may slow thing down somewhat. At just 28
Veniamin was suspected in seven of the gangland murders and without him to pull
the trigger, some members of Melbourne’s crime world may be sleeping a little
better from now on.

But it may not be that easy. Not even the death of Jason Moran in 2003 slowed down the killings.

Moran was the prime suspect in the murder of Alphonse Gangitano.
As Gangitano’s right hand man, Moran and associate Graham Kinniburgh
were at Gangitano’s Templestowe house when the killing took place.

Thirteen other men were killed before Jason Moran himself was shot,
along with his companion, standover man Pasquale Barbaro, but still the
killings did not stop.

The were eleven killings in the three years following Gangitano’s
murder, including the shooting of Mark Moran in June 2000, followed by
a mysterious calm in 2001 when nothing happened. In May 2002 and
reached a peak in 2003, the busiest year yet for gangland murders, with
a massive eight murders.

There are several theories surrounding the killings. One suggests there was a feud between Victor Peirce and the Moran family.

The Age’s veteran police reporter John Silvester has speculated on
whether Jason Moran was been killed as a payback for the death of
Victor Peirce, itself a payback for the death of Mark Moran, itself a
payback for the murder of Victor Peirce’s friend Frank Benvenuto?

While another theory is that the Morans were feuding with Carl Williams
who’d been shot in the stomach by the Morans over a drug deal gone
wrong.

Or maybe it was just rival gangs fighting for dominance of the drug
market. Whatever the reason the death of Veniamin is sure to have
a profound effect.

Melbourne gangland murders 1998 – 2004:


1. Alphonse Gangitano
, 40 – Gangster
Shot dead in the laundry of his Templestowe home – January 16, 1998
Sunday program claim Jason Moran was responsible for the killing

2. John Furlan
, 48
Bombed in his car in North Coburg – August 3, 1998

3. Charles “Mad Charlie” Hegyaljie, 42 – Notorious criminal
Found shot dead in the front yard of his home in Caulfield South – November 23, 1998
Believed drug or debt-related


4. Vince Mannella
– Former employer of Victor Peirce
Shot outside his Fitzroy North home – January 9, 1999
Underworld power struggle suspected


5. Joseph Quadara
, 57 – Bankrupt fruiterer
Gunned down in a supermarket car park in Toorak – May 28, 1999


6. Dimitrios Belias
, 38 – Brighton businessman
Shot in underground St Kilda car park – September 9, 1999

7. Gerardo Mannella, 31
Shot in a North Fitzroy street after talking to and trying to escape from two men – October 20, 1999
Possibly killed by rivals who thought he planned to avenge brother’s murder (see above).

8. Francesco Benvenuto, 52 – Melbourne Fruit and Vegetable Market wholesaler (Victor Peirce’s friend and Moran associate)
Found shot dead at the wheel of his car in Beaumaris – May 8, 2000


9. Richard Mladenich
, 37 – Career criminal
Shot dead in a St Kilda motel room in front of three other people – May 16, 2000

10. Mark Moran, 36 – Jason Moran’s half-brother
Shot dead after getting out of his car outside
his Aberfeldie home – June 15, 2000
Suspect Andrew Veniamin – possibly pay back for the killing of Benvenuto (above)


11. Dino Dibra
, 25 – Drug dealer
Shot outside his Sunshine West home – October 14, 2000
No. 1 suspect Andrew Veniamin


12. Victor Peirce
, 42 – Career criminal, acquitted of the 1988 Walsh St police murders
Shot in his car in Bay Street, Port Melbourne – May 1, 2002
Suspect Andrew Veniamin

13. Paul Kallipolitis – Drug dealer
Body of found shot dead in his Sunshine West home – October 15, 2002
No. 1 suspect Andrew Veniamin

14. Nik “The Russian” Radev – Standover man and drug dealer
Shot repeatedly in the head and chest in Queen Street, Coburg – April 15, 2003
No. 1 suspect Andrew Veniamin

15. Jason Moran, 36 – Drug trafficker
Shot in a van at a football clinic at Essendon North with five children in the back – June 21, 2003
Suspect Victor Brincat – possible as a payback for the death of Victor Peirce

16. Pasquale Barbaro, 40 – standover man
Shot in a van at a football clinic at Essendon North with five children in the back – June 21, 2003
Suspect Victor Brincat

17. Willy Thompson
, 39
Shot in his car after leaving the Extreme Jiu-Jitsu and Grappling club in Chadstone – July 21, 2003


18. Mark Mallia
, 30 – Radve enforcer
The charred remains of Mallia were found in a drain in West Sunshine – August 18, 2003
No. 1 suspect Andrew Veniamin


19. Housam Zayat
, 32 – Violent criminal
Forced from his car and shot dead in a paddock near Werribee – September 11, 2003
Nicholas Ibrahim charged

20. Michael Marshall – kick boxer and hotdog dealer
Shot getting out of his car outside his South Yarra home in front of his five-year-old son – October 25, 2003
Victor Brincat and Thomas Hentschel have been charged with the killing


21. Graham “The Munster” Kinniburgh
, 62 – veteran safebreaker and standover man
Ambushed and shot returning to his home in Kew, but Kinniburgh got a shot off at his assailant before dying – December 13, 2003
No. 1 suspect Andrew Veniamin


22. Andrew “Benji” Veniamin
, 28 – hitman
Shot at La Porcella restaurant in Carlton – 23 March 2004
Allegedly shot by Dominic “Mick” Gatto, 48

23. Lawis Moran, 58 – drug dealer
Shot at the Brunswick Club – 31 March 2004

The last day in the life of a hitman

Tuesday’s murder of alleged hitman Carl Williams’ bodyguard
brings to 22 the number of killings in Melbourne’s gangland war – and
further increases pressure on police to bring to justice the
perpetrators.

Andrew ‘Benji’ Veniamin was shot dead at La
Porchella restaurant in Carlton at 2.45 this afternoon after an
argument – presumably not about the topping on his pizza.

Police
moved quickly, arresting Lygon St criminal enforcer Mick Gatto at the
scene. News reports suggest he is claiming self defence.

Just
hours earlier, a magistrate had refused a police request to take a DNA
sample from accused gangland murderer Victor Brincat in a bid to link
him to the execution-style killing of Melbourne crime boss Jason Moran.
‘Benji’ and Williams were in court offering moral support so today we
have the rare situation of having live television footage of a murder
victim on the day of his death.

The death of Williams’
protector – in the heart of the precinct controlled by ex-boxer Gatto –
puts the heat on police although at least they they have detained
someone, unlike most of the other murders where no-one was even taken
in for questioning.

Gatto
was a noticeably high profile
mourner at the funeral of underworld elder statesman Graham ‘the
Munster’ Kinniburgh earlierthis year. He has risen up the crime ranks,
and was considered a successor to the Munster as a director of the
underworld board.

Incredibly,
Carl Williams bobbed up at a media conference held by police at 4.15pm,
and was chased down the street by TV cameramen after being recognised
standing just behind the media scrum. Williams then hopped into a
stranger’s car and locked himself in a petrol station toilet as he
tried to lose the chasing hacks.

A silver Mercedes,
presumably driven by Veniamin, remained double parked outside the
scene. The Age online named Veniamin as the victim, citing police sources.

Sky
News stuck their necks out early in the piece reporting that ‘Benji’
was believed responsible for at least four of the underworld killings,
including that of alleged Walsh St police killer Victor Pierce.

This is arguably the most sensational of the underworld killings so far and no doubt the story will run and run.

Peter Fray

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