AustraliaTony Mokbel's plan to end Melbourne's gangland war revealed at Lawyer X royal commission
Tony Mokbel tried to broker deal with police, Lawyer X royal commission hears
The convicted drug lord tried to broker a deal with police to end Melbourne's bloody gangland war in 2004, according to the former boss of Victoria's anti-gangland taskforce. © AAP: Julian Smith Tony Mokbel approached police about a deal, the Lawyer X royal commission heard. The Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants heard former detective inspector Jim O'Brien met with Mokbel who offered up Carl Williams, Assam Ahmed and another associate. "Basically, what he was saying is everybody was negotiable, but not the family and that he controlled that," Mr O'Brien told the commission on Tuesday.
As pressure on his drug cartel mounted and with many of Tony Mokbel's associates before the courts, in 2004 the drug trafficker met with two drug squad detectives at Yarra Bend Park and tried to broker a deal.
In the candid and colourful conversation with Detective Sergeant Martin Robertson and his colleague, who can't be named, Mokbel proposes his radical plan that he says will ease the pressure on a court system in "turmoil" and bring "peace to the streets".
The police are there to get information about gangland murders.
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Mokbel tells them he was "relieved" when underworld figure Mick Gatto killed his associate Andrew "Benji" Veniamin, and he goes on to defend the 2003 public murder of his rival Jason Moran.
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That conversation was secretly recorded and parts have now been made public by the Royal Commission Into the Management of Police Informants.
The commission is looking into how Victoria Police used barrister Nicola Gobbo, also known as Lawyer X or Informer 3838, as a human source.
The hearings are now focusing on the help Ms Gobbo gave police during Melbourne's infamous gangland wars, which saw a swathe of criminals murdered across Melbourne — something the transcripts show Mokbel was trying to stop.
Mokbel offers to 'nod our heads' to charges
Mokbel tells the police three of his associates would be willing to go to jail if it would end the drug war.
Tony Mokbel: "If we nod our heads to some of these charges, are youse prepared to nod ya head[?]"
Mokbel: "Because I think it'll give peace to the streets, number one … like we go and do a little bit of time and leave the streets to youse."
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If not, Mokbel tells the police he is prepared to tie up the court system, including his own case, which he thinks he can drag out for 10 years.
Mokbel: "End of the day, right, if we can just go there, get a good deal happening, OK, where everyone's happy like … the money you save, by the all the bulls---, the commotions that's get inside the court cases, all that c--p goes on down there, OK. Mate, let me tell you something, they'll go happily in there."
Mokbel tells them Carl Williams is willing to do a deal and says that, in fact, he'd just spoken to him 20 minutes earlier.
The detectives use the meeting to get Mokbel talking about gangland murders.
Martin Robertson: "There are people dying left right and centre. Isn't there?"
Mokbel: "I'm not going to comment on that. I mean it's just there, it's black and white."
Within minutes he goes there.
Mokbel: "But like, but you can see, I can see and you can see I'm sure that it's not very long where probably an innocent person is going to get hurt."
Mokbel: "The judges are sickened by it, ya know. You can see it by miles away."
Robertson: "But the argument can go the other way. The magistrates are now, I mean the killings have turned the heat on you blokes. The magistrates are reading the papers and they're saying, no these blokes are actually killing people now, they're not just dealing drugs."
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Mokbel is seemingly offended by the suggestion he would admit to murder.
Mokbel: "Well don't, don't, don't ever put that to me ever again 'cause I'll disrespect ya. I'll be honest with ya."
Robertson: "Well then it's up to you."
He goes on to warn police it could get a lot worse.
Mokbel: "You'd be surprised how big the picture's going to be probably in six months. I'm telling ya it's a, it's a huge, it's a huge thing for youse in that regard."
Mokbel: "Because like I said at the end of the day look, honestly, ya know, I don't want to see any of my, anyone else getting f***in' killed, I'll tell you right now."
Sergeant Robertson tells Mokbel his bosses want the killings to stop — and maybe having a few "main players" inside would help and "loosen a few lips down the track".
'Benji was a very dangerous bloke'
A month before the meeting Mokbel's associate, Veniamin, had been killed by underworld figure Mick Gatto.
Mr Gatto was later acquitted of murder, with the jury finding he shot Veniamin in self-defence.
Despite Veniamin being close Williams, who was one of Mokbel's men, he tells police Mr Gatto had done them a favour.
Mokbel: "He was, ah, 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."
Robertson: "No I know. Yeah."
Lawyer X royal commission hears Tony Mokbel cried continually in jail after his arrest in Athens
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Mokbel: "Yeah I look, oh look I was having a little talk to someone just the other day. I said in one sense we're very relieved. Mick, what he did, Mick was, ah, in one sense he was very relieved."
It's clear, Mokbel is no fan of Veniamin or the company he kept.
Mokbel: "Have you met f***in' Benji's mates? They haven't got a f***in' brain. I went to the f***in' house, mate there was f***in' 60, 70 of them, between them all, if you put them all together they haven't got a f***in' half a brain. And that's the truth of the matter."
Morans 'their own worst enemies', Mokbel says
The conversation turns to the public killing of his rival Jason Moran, who was shot dead alongside his minder Pasquale Barbaro in a van outside an Auskick football clinic.
Robertson: "…But gloves went off when they shot Moran in front of, ya know, 10 kids…"
For Mokbel that was a kill or be killed situation.
Mokbel: "He wasn't a bad bloke. He never done nothing wrong to me."
Mokbel: "But the thing is at the end of the day, if he was going 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 and this and that … if you're f***in' going around to everybody and putting hits on me left, right and centre, am I supposed to do? Sit there and wait for some bloke…"
Robertson: "A case of self-defence."
Mokbel: "But you know what I'm trying to say? They're their own, their own worst enemies."
But when it comes to Mokbel's deal that he wants to take to the then Director of Public Prosecutions, Paul Coghlan, the police aren't impressed.
Robertson: "I don't think anything like this has been attempted."
Robertson: "Not a multiple-case deal."
Mokbel: "But what, this will stop. I'll tell ya if it's going to stop a royal commission, this will stop it."
Robertson: "Oh my god it could even start one."
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