Julian Smith/AP
Judy Moran

All in the Family: Last of Australia’s Morans Is Murdered; Sister-in-Law Charged

June 17, 2009 08:00 PM
by Denis Cummings
Des “Tuppence” Moran, the last male member of one of Australia’s most notorious crime families, was murdered this week in a hit allegedly ordered by his brother’s widow.

Moran Widow Orders Murder of Brother-in-Law

The Moran crime family was at the center of the Melbourne gangland killings, a decade of violence between as many as six criminal organizations that resulted in the death of more than 30 organized crime figures. Lewis Moran, the family patriarch, and his two sons, Jason and Mark, were all killed between 2002 and 2004, leaving Lewis’ widow Judy and brother Desmond “Tuppence” Moran as the surviving members.

The violence in Melbourne died down after 2006, but on Monday, Des was murdered—shot multiple times in the head outside a Melbourne cafe. About 15 minutes after his death, Judy arrived on the scene and reportedly was screaming “Dessy, Dessy,” reported The Australian.

There were initially fears that the murder could signal renewed gangland violence. However, it has since become clear to investigators that the killing was strictly a family affair. Mrs. Moran was arrested Tuesday and charged with accessory to murder for allegedly ordering the hit. Her friend Suzanne Kane, Kane’s boyfriend Geoff “Nuts” Amour and a second man were also arrested.

Police searched her home and found “a hidden safe with three handguns and clothing and a wig believed to have been worn by the alleged shooters,” according to The Age. Police also have electronic surveillance of Mrs. Moran and Amour talking about disposing the evidence.

Amour, along with the unidentified man, is believed to have fired the shots that killed Des Moran. The Brisbane Times reports that Amour had also tried to kill Moran on March 17, and had been under police surveillance. He “is believed to have slipped police surveillance less than an hour before the murder,” writes the Times.

Late Tuesday night, as Judy Moran sat in a Melbourne prison cell, her home was set ablaze after what investigators believe to be a Molotov cocktail was thrown through the front window, reports the Melbourne Herald Sun. Police have no leads as to who set the fire, but it is assumed that it is related to the murder of Des Moran.

Moran and Kane were each denied bail Wednesday, while Amour is scheduled to appear Thursday, according to The Age.

The actions of the Moran family and other Melbourne criminals were dramatized in a popular television series, but Victoria’s police chief commissioner believes the recent events may be too unbelievable even for television.

“Fact is almost stranger than fiction with what we’ve seen,” he told ABC Radio, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “If you were a scriptwriter and sat down and wrote this stuff you’d probably say, ‘look, no, it’s a bit far fetched no one will believe it.’”

Background: The Morans and Melbourne violence

The Melbourne gangland killings, a period of intense violence between figures of the Melbourne underworld, is believed to have been started by the Jan. 16, 1998, murder of Alphonse Gangitano by Jason Moran or Graham Kinniburgh.

The violence was further ignited in October 1999, when drug trafficker Carl Williams, head of the Williams family, was shot—but not killed—by either Jason or Mark Moran over an amphetamines deal.

Williams would kill Mark Moran, Lewis’ stepson, in 2002. Jason Moran, who had many enemies and had a bounty put on his head by Williams, was killed in 2003 while picking up his kids from their soccer game. Lewis Moran, the Moran family patriarch, was murdered in 2004 at a bar.

This left Tuppence as the lone surviving Moran criminal. “Tuppence was the dark horse of the Moran clan,” writes celebrity gangster Chopper Read in the Herald Sun. “Tuppence was the one with the money and the underworld power and authority. He was the one who could have you shot with a phone call or have you bashed with a nod of his head.”

Reference: Melbourne gangland killings


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines