HOW THESE GANGLAND KIDS ES­CAPED THEIR TER­RI­BLE LEGACY

The chil­dren of Mel­bourne’s crime gangs try to lead nor­mal lives…

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Crime -

‘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.”

REAL-LIFE UN­DER­BELLY

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.

GANGLAND FU­NERAL

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.

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