Mokbel wanted 'peace on the streets' deal

Karen Sweeney
Underworld figure Tony Mokbel said he wanted to broker a deal to end Melbourne's gangland war

Hitman Andrew 'Benji' Veniamin was a "good bloke" but the underworld was relieved when he was killed because no-one knew whose side he was on, drug kingpin Tony Mokbel claimed.

Mokbel met with police in a secretly-recorded conversation in a Melbourne park in 2004 when he tried to broker a deal to put underworld crooks behind bars and "bring peace to the streets".

A transcript of the conversation has been revealed during an ongoing royal commission into Victoria Police's use of informers.

During a 45-minute conversation with officers, Mokbel said himself, underworld killer Carl Williams and others were willing to "do a little bit of time" in order to end the city's deadly gangland wars.

The meeting at Yarra Bend Park came weeks after Veniamin - once described as Australia's busiest hitman - was fatally shot.

His death was discussed. So too was the murder of kickboxing hotdog vendor and drug dealer Michael Marshall, and the shooting of Jason Moran and Pasquale Barbaro at a children's Auskick clinic that police described as a "game changer" in the gangland wars.

More than 30 people were killed between 1998 and 2010 during the intense rivalry between the Calabrian Mafia-linked 'Carlton Crew' and the Mokbel-Williams aligned organised crime crowd.

"I don't want to see ... anyone else, getting f***in' killed," Mokbel told police on April 13, 2004.

"No-one deserves to die."

But when it came to Veniamin, who was largely aligned with his own crew and was bodyguard to his mate Williams, he didn't mince words.

"He was a dangerous, very dangerous bloke. You wouldn't know which, one day if he was on your side or not on your side," Mokbel said.

Gangland figure Mick Gatto was acquitted of murdering Veniamin after a jury accepted the fatal shooting was in self-defence.

But in his conversation with police, Mokbel said "In one sense we're very relieved Mick (did) what he did".

But he made it clear though that he was still no fan of Mr Gatto, describing him as a "f***in' c**ksucker".

Jason Moran was another of his rivals. Williams and two others, who can't be named, were jailed for his murder.

Mokbel told police Moran was a "mate" who had never wronged him, but suggested the way he was ordering hits, his murder wasn't a surprise.

"...he was going to every f***in' loose cannon and saying listen I'll give you 150 to set up this bloke, 100 grand to set up this bloke," he said.

"If you're f***in' going around to everybody and putting hits on me left right and centre, (what) am I supposed to do? Sit there and wait for some bloke ... to come and get me?"

The officers put to Mokbel that he could assist them with their multiple open murder investigations. It could help his own cases down the track. But he was offended by the proposition.

"Don't ever put that to me again," he said, telling them that's not in his nature.

Mokbel had already proposed a deal, limited to drug crimes.

He hoped police would help him broker a deal with then-director of public prosecutions Paul Coghlan which could end the gangland killings within six months.

"If we nod our heads to some of these charges, are youse prepared to nod ya head and we'll just go in?" he asked officers.

A number of underworld crooks were prepared to get in on the deal, he told them.

"Everybody did say they want to do a little bit of jail but they won't do f***in' massive jail, ya now," he said.

A deal was never brokered. Former gangland-busting Purana Taskforce boss Jim O'Brien told the royal commission that he believed Mokbel was arrogant for thinking he could play such a major role in ending the bloodshed.

Mokbel is currently serving three decades behind bars. He was convicted of multiple drug trafficking offences.

He was acquitted of murdering Jason Moran and charges for Marshall's murder were dropped.