Joe Bruno on the Mob – Matthew Johnson Found Guilty of Carl Williams’ Murder

I can’t say this verdict surprises me very much.

Matthew Johnson’s defense in the jail house murder of master criminal and multiple murderer Carl Williams (which was caught on tape in an Australian prison) was that he killed Williams before Williams could kill him. Johnson said he had been told by cell mate Tommy Ivanovic that Williams was planning to kill him by using a “common prison weapon” – a sock full of billiard balls.

But the jury didn’t buy that defense, and after three days of deliberation, they found Johnson guilty of murder.

The prosecutors claimed that Johnson killed Williams because Williams had become a rat for the government in a case against an allegedly crooked cop named Paul Dale, who Williams claimed was involved in the murders of Terence Hodson and his wife Christine. For cooperating with the government, Williams’ father George Williams would be moved from another prison to the same prison as his son. Also, Williams father’s tax debt of $750,000 would be paid off, as would his daughter’s private school fees. In addition, Williams would be eligible for a $1 million reward for solving the Hodsons’ murders. And finally, the police would support Williams’ appeal to have his 35-year sentence cut by up to 15 years.

Prospectors claimed that when Johnson found out Williams had become “a dog,” a jail house term for “informer, he decided to kill Williams, because Johnson hated informers. Williams had told Johnson he really wasn’t really a “dog” because he was only ratting on cops, but Johnson would have none of that.

As I predicted in a previous blog, when it came right down to it, even though it might be true that Williams had threated to kill Johnson, a jury is more likely to believe the prosecutor’s side of the story, instead of someone like Johnson, who is a lifetime criminal.

And that’s exactly the way the jury’s deliberations played out.

The two articles below can be found at:


Killer found guilty of Williams murder
Sarah Farnsworth
Updated September 30, 2011 00:59:58
A jury has found the man who killed drug boss Carl Williams guilty of murder.
As Matthew Johnson, 38, learned his fate on Thursday, he stared ahead with his hands clasped, displaying a resigned indifference.
The verdict comes after three days of deliberations following a trial that lasted 14 days; one in which Johnson played only a minor role.
The focus was on the late gangland boss, four-times convicted killer and drug trafficker Williams.
Johnson pleaded not guilty to murder and maintained he bludgeoned Williams to death in self-defence, believing he was to become the next target of the baby-faced killer.
At the time he was killed, Williams was serving a minimum 35-year sentence for the gangland murders of Michael Marshall, Lewis Moran, Jason Moran and Mark Mallia.
He was also convicted of drug trafficking.
Prosecutor Mark Rochford SC asked the jurors to push aside who and what Williams was, pointing out that when he was killed he was sitting reading a newspaper and posed no threat.
“It doesn’t matter if someone in the community thinks Matt Johnson did the world a favour by killing Carl Williams … that’s no excuse,” he said.
CCTV cameras captured the moment on April 19, 2010 when Johnson attacked Williams unawares in Barwon Prison.
Johnson walked up behind him and bludgeoned him eight times with the stem of an exercise bike, a weapon he had moved closer to his cell after what he said was months of bullying and torment.
The first blow was so hard it knocked Williams off his chair. Johnson then dragged Williams’s bloodied body back to his cell.
It was nearly another 30 minutes before prison guards stormed the unit and found Williams after Johnson told them “Carl has hit his head”.
Johnson admitted on the stand it was a planned attack.
He told the court that another inmate, Tommy Ivanovic, had told him Williams was planning to kill him using a “common prison weapon” – a sock full of billiard balls.
Johnson said he took the threat seriously as Williams was “a killer”.
He told the court Williams was “the boss” who would talk of murders like others talk of football.
Johnson said he had decided to “get in first”; and he said letters he wrote to other inmates on April 18, 2010 hinted of what was to come.
“I think I’ll have to hang around for a while longer,” he wrote to one friend.
“It doesn’t matter because I love this s***. I’m the true general so I must keep things in good order.”
In a second letter to Ange Goussis, he wrote: “By now you’d know that Charlie’s team also lost. What can ya do, buddy? Life goes on.”
On the stand, Johnson admitted he was referring to Williams’s killing, which he planned to carry out at the first available opportunity the next day.
According to Johnson’s lawyer, Bill Stuart, Williams was “the most dangerous man to walk the streets of Melbourne”.
He was described as a master manipulator, a man who hired assassins to kill.
Mr Stuart argued the drug boss wanted to remain the “top dog” and be “the most dangerous man to walk the corridors of Victoria’s prisons”.
He argued that Williams’s character was paramount to Johnson’s decision to “kill or be killed”.
The defence never shied away from the imposing figure Johnson cut – 188cm and 100 kilograms.
In Johnson’s own words, he was “fairly big” without an ounce of fat on him; he was much larger than Williams, who had dropped 20 kilograms in prison.
Johnson has spent the best part of his life in jail. Since a teenager he has been in and out of prison.
Just last year he was sentenced to 16 years, to serve at least 13, for a vicious aggravated armed robbery.
Two years ago he was acquitted over the 2007 murder of an 18-year-old over a $50 drug debt.
The burnt body of Bryan Conyers was found by a security guard at a vacant house in Pakenham. He had been shot, stabbed and set alight.
Johnson and another man were cleared of the murder. His co-accused, Timothy Prentice, pleaded guilty to accessory to murder.
The trial was one of revelations, twists and turns.
Johnson was the self-titled “general” of a group of inmates known as ‘Prisoners of War’. He hated “dogs”, a prison term for police informers.
At an earlier and unrelated trial, later to be dubbed “the trial from hell” by the presiding judge, Johnson and four other men displayed the worse examples of contempt of court in Victoria’s history.
As a fellow Barwon prisoner broke the cardinal rule and testified against them, human waste was thrown from the dock, some of the men bared their bottoms, and Johnson broke wind into the microphone.
Later his lawyer told the court of appeal the witness “knew how to push his buttons”.
They were the same words he used to describe how Carl Williams got under his skin.
Williams had confided in his fellow prisoners about the help he was giving police to solve the 2004 double murder of Terence Hodson and wife Christine at their Kew home.
Three statements written by Williams detailed his cooperation and implicated former drug squad detective Paul Dale.
Williams alleged Mr Dale asked him to organise a hit on police informer Hodson for $150,000.
The statements also implicated a hit man who cannot be named, but one widely known in the prison system – someone known to Johnson.
In a secretly recorded prison phone call, Johnson whispers he had found the statements and put them on his computer. Police found copies on his computer after the killing.
The prosecution argued that was the motive behind the killing; that Williams was a “dog” and despite attempts to keep Johnson onside, his hatred spilled over.
But on the stand, Johnson said he knew the drug boss was spinning a yarn, hoping to get 15 years knocked off his sentence.
“He was pulling the wool over their eyes… Then he was going to shaft ’em,” he said.
Johnson also said Williams had asked him to kill Mr Dale for $200,000 if he was granted bail.
Despite his infamous reputation, Williams died the same as many of his victims: the victim of a cold, callous and brutal death.
Johnson’s legal team has 28 days to appeal the conviction.
Outside court, Detective Superintendent Doug Fryer expressed relief at the verdict.
“We’re pleased obviously with the result, and [it’s a] great result for everyone, certainly the family are rapt about it,” he said.
“It’s been a sensational trial and sensational events over the last 12 to 14 months and justice has been done today.”
Victoria Police released a brief statement saying investigations into a number of matters surrounding Williams’s death are continuing.

Johnson found guilty of murdering Williams
Matthew Johnson has been found guilty of murdering gangland figure Carl Williams at Victoria’s Barwon Prison.
LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: A jury has found a prisoner in Victoria’s highest security jail guilty of murdering gangland boss Carl Williams.

In an explosive twist to Melbourne’s underworld saga, the court heard Carl Williams was helping police try to solve a notorious double murder before he died.

The execution of Melbourne couple Terrence and Christine Hodson eight years ago ties together police corruption and some of Victoria’s most infamous criminals. And as Josie Taylor reports, it remains the darkest stain on the reputation of the state’s police force.

JOSIE TAYLOR, REPORTER: This man, 38-year-old Matthew Charles Johnson, was today convicted of murdering Carl Williams in April last year. A jury rejected his argument that he’d killed Williams out of self-defence. Johnson snuck up behind the gangland boss in the prison unit they shared and bashed him to death with a bicycle stem. Williams was reading a newspaper at the time. He featured on its front page. The article described the gangland killer’s decision to co-operate with police, a decision that cost him his life.

What did you first think when you learnt that Carl Williams had been killed?

NICOLA KOMIAZYK: I actually was shattered and I nearly fell backwards because I knew that Carl Williams was crucial to the whole case of Paul Dale and dad. That was what the connection was. So it was – I actually screamed, I think, for two hours and cried and just in disbelief.

MANDY HODSON: That’s, once again, silencing someone that had crucial information.

JOSIE TAYLOR: This Saturday’s AFL Grand Final marks eight years since life for the Hodson family started to unravel.

What significance does it have for your family?

MANDY HODSON: Oh, it’s a big one because that’s where it all started. It’s – now I am gonna cry. (Getting emotional. Voice becomes high-pitched). That’s where it all went wrong.

JOSIE TAYLOR: On Grand Final day 2003, Terence Hodson was caught with a corrupt detective, stealing drugs from a house in Melbourne’s south-east. Hodson decided to strike a deal with anti-corruption police. He agreed to give evidence against the detective and his sergeant, Paul Dale, but before he got to the witness box, someone executed Terence Hodson in his home. His wife Christine was shot dead beside him.

NICOLA KOMIAZYK: We’ve lost mum and dad. You know, our kids have lost their grandparents.

JOSIE TAYLOR: Without Hodson’s evidence, police were forced to drop all charges against Paul Dale. He moved to Victoria’s north to run a petrol station. But a specialised police taskforce had him under investigation, and in 2009, Paul Dale was arrested and charged with the murder of Terence Hodson. The case against him collapsed suddenly last year.

PAUL DALE, FORMER VICTORIA POLICE DETECTIVE (June 2010): I’ve maintained my innocence from day one of these events. I’m totally innocent of the murder of Christine and Terence Hodson.

JOSIE TAYLOR: But evidence that has emerged in a Melbourne court in the past fortnight suggests otherwise. A jury was told that gangland killer Carl Williams implicated Paul Dale in the murder of Terence Hodson. Williams told police that Dale had approached him to have Terence Hodson killed. Williams made three statements to police before the gangland killer was bashed to death in Victoria’s highest security prison last year.

Carl Williams was at the centre of Melbourne’s gangland war. He was serving 35 years in jail after admitting he ordered several murders.

Williams told police he began a corrupt relationship with drug squad detective Paul Dale around 2002. Dale would give Williams information in exchange for cash, about $40,000 in total.

But in 2003, Dale was arrested and Terence Hodson was due to give crucial evidence against him. Williams says the former detective asked him to kill Terence Hodson.

CARL WILLIAMS, STATEMENT TO POLICE (male voiceover): “We went for a walk. Dale told me that he had to get Hodson and he had to get Hodson before Dale’s committal. Dale said he didn’t want to go back to jail. Dale asked me if I could help him out. He said it had to be done before his committal. I knew why, because if the evidence goes into the committal it could still be used if the witness is dead at the trial. … I told Dale I would help if he needed me to.”

JOSIE TAYLOR: The agreed price according to Williams was $150,000. He hired a known hitman and Dale deposited bundles of cash in a wheelie bin. Carl Williams then passed on the money to the hired killer who carried out the job.

CARL WILLIAMS, STATEMENT TO POLICE (male voiceover): “I said to him, ‘What happen with the sheila?’ He said, ‘That’s not for you to worry about.’ That was the end of the conversation. I asked him about the sheila because I didn’t think she needed to die and she wasn’t part of the contract.”

JOSIE TAYLOR: But in exchange for telling police this information, the jury was told Carl Williams got big rewards. His father George Williams was moved from another prison to be housed with his son. His father’s tax debt of $750,000 would be paid off, as would his daughter’s private school fees. He’d be eligible for a $1 million reward for solving the Hodsons’ murders, and crucially, police would support his appeal to have his 35-year sentence potentially cut by up to 15 years.

The maximum security Acacia unit of Barwon Prison is under constant CCTV monitoring, but no guards responded to the murder until Johnson alerted them to it nearly half an hour later.

PETER NORDEN, MELBOURNE LAW SCHOOL: The day of his death, he was front-page headlines. And from my experience working in the prisons, whenever that happened, the prisoners would be under very tight scrutiny, at least for the next 48 hours, 72 hours, but especially given the fact that it publicly identified him as a police informer. The fact that the staff in that unit failed to even notice what happened for at least half an hour is very surprising.

JOSIE TAYLOR: The man who killed Carl Williams was once his friend and ally. A jury heard Matthew Johnson withdrawn was the founder and leader of a hardcore prison group called the Prisoners of War. The group believed in doing time old school, which means never ever informing.

CARL WILLIAMS (2nd May, 2010): He’s a fat f#%*ing sook. He bit off more than he can chew. In here, mate, he’s just another bare bum in the f#%*ing shower block.

JOSIE TAYLOR: During the trial the prosecution played taped phone calls and prison visits between Johnson and his close friends. Johnson whispers to his best friend about the moment he stumbled across the statements Carl Williams had made to police.

MATTHEW JOHNSON (8th May, 2010): Carl’s statements were on there. His statements. I found ’em. Put ’em all on there.

Friend: Plenty there?

MATTHEW JOHNSON: One proper one, on the Hodsons. But six that he was doin’, ready to givem to ’em. Yeah, people I know.

JOSIE TAYLOR: After killing Williams, Johnson, along with a third inmate in the maximum security unit, walked laps of the exercise yard. The third man was convicted murderer Tommy Ivanovic. He was a close friend of Carl Williams and Matthew Johnson, but Ivanovic also had a friendship with former detective Paul Dale. In fact Dale had once registered Ivanovic as an informer and had given evidence to help Ivanovic in his murder trial.

Paul Dale and his lawyer Tony Hargreaves declined 7.30’s request for an interview.

The evidence against Paul Dale was never tested in court. The trial of Matthew Johnson heard that without Carl Williams Victoria Police did not have a case against the former detective.

TED BAILLIEU, VICTORIAN OPPOSITION LEADER (April 2010): Where a high-security prisoner can be brutally murdered in the middle of the highest security jail we have, something terribly wrong has gone on.

JOSIE TAYLOR: In Opposition, the now Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu called for a judicial inquiry into the killing, but today no-one from the Baillieu Government was prepared to talk.

Victoria Police refused to dwell on the information Carl Williams took to his grave.

DOUG FRYER, VICTORIA POLICE: The events of today was about seeing a conviction for the murder of Carl Williams and we’re really pleased with the result that’s come down. Thankyou.

JOSIE TAYLOR: The Hodsons’ daughters want a Royal Commission into their parent’ deaths, but they hold out little hope there’ll be further scrutiny of their murders and that of Carl Williams.

NICOLA KOMIAZYK: If he was helping police with any inquiries, he shoulda been their main target by keeping him safe, because look what happened to dad. He was helping the police out and they lost their lives for it. The same should have been done with Carl.

JOSIE TAYLOR: What hope do you have now of police securing a conviction in the murder of your mum and dad?

NICOLA KOMIAZYK: I don’t. We’ll never get the justice that we’re looking for. Never.

LEIGH SALES: Josie Taylor with that report.

Editor’s note: When the prosecution put to Matthew Johnson that Tommy Ivanovic was an informer, Johnson denied that was the case. Tommy Ivanovic denies any knowledge that he had been registered as an informant by Paul Dale.


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