HOW THESE GANGLAND KIDS ESCAPED THEIR TERRIBLE LEGACY
The children of Melbourne’s crime gangs try to lead normal lives…
‘We know him as fun and loving and caring. He made us happy’
All little girls idolise their daddies and Dhakota Williams is no different, despite the fact Carl was a convicted murderer and one of the most infamous criminals in Australian history.
Before he was bashed to death by a fellow inmate at HM Prison Barwon on April 19, 2010, Carl had pleaded guilty to four murders and was implicated in another. But to Dhakota, now 17, her dad was just doing what good fathers should – protecting his family.
“It’s like, we know our dad as our dad, not what he’s described as in the papers. So we know him as fun and loving and caring for us and always makes… made us happy.”
It is a sentiment shared by so many of the children sporting surnames synonymous with Victoria’s gangland wars, such as Moran, Williams, Mokbel, Gangitano and Gatto, names that are etched in the blood of some 36 murders spanning the period from 1998 to 2010 and becoming the basis of innumerable books and the TV series Underbelly.
And while the gunshots may have subsided – for now, anyway – their legends live on in the innocents left in their wake, children born into families that will forever be scarred by patriarchs whose greed and spite outweighed everything, including their own safety. Yet it wasn’t supposed to be this way.
There’s a rule in gangster law that children and wives are off limits always. But as the Melbourne drug turf wars escalated, rules began to be broken. And, as such, children and wives were thrust into the battle, if not the gunfire, with their fathers being executed in their own homes, at family functions and, in one infamous incident, while watching their kids play footy.
Who can forget the image of Dhakota clutching a teddy bear as she watched her father’s gold-plated coffin carried out of a church at his gangland funeral? Now she’s back in the news, eight years after her father was
Prostitution, illegal gambling and armed robbery were rife
bashed to death by another criminal in a Melbourne prison, fighting authorities for a slice of her million-dollar gangland inheritance.
BACK TO THE CROWN
The year 11 high school student lives with her mum, Carl’s outspoken widow Roberta, in an Essendon house, which has been shot up and firebombed in the past. It’s this house that authorities are now trying to take in lieu of unpaid taxes.
Putting aside the fight over her dad’s ill-gotten gains, from all accounts Dhakota leads a relatively quiet and conservative life, although she was caught out for allegedly sneaking into a VIP area for over 18s at Melbourne’s Crown casino earlier this year.
It’s the same venue where her dad hosted his notorious gangland mates at her christening in 2003.
Roberta says her pretty brunette daughter could be a model if she chose to be, but the teenager seems determined to study law.
To comprehend how kids became involved in their parents’ slayings is to first understand the war itself, and how family honour and power were at its core.
Police believe it all began when John Higgs, then Australia’s number one amphetamine trafficker, was arrested in 1996, leaving the lucrative drug market for open for the taking. Ready in the wings were underworld figures, brothers Jason and Mark Moran of the infamous Carlton Crew and Carl Williams, among others, already dealing in prostitution, illegal gambling and armed robbery.
And while so many subsequently died in the battle for drug-dealing supremacy, there are certain murders that escalated the war for control, one of the first was Higgs’ close associate, gangster Alphonse Gangitano.
Now She is now fighting for her inheritance.
THEN Daddy Carl’s little girl Dhakota.
Gangitano (second from right) was shot and killed in the laundry of his home in January 1998.