Andrew Veniamin

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Andrew Veniamin
Born 16 November 1975 (1975-11-16)
Footscray, Melbourne
Died 23 March 2004 (2004-03-24) (aged 28)
Carlton, Melbourne
Other names Benji
Conviction(s) Theft, assault

Andrew "Benji" Veniamin (16 November 1975 – 23 March 2004) was an Australian criminal, convicted car thief, and suspected murderer of seven underworld figures and was one of the key figures involved in the Melbourne underworld killings. He was also a suspected hitman for the Williams crime family.

Background[edit]

Veniamin was born to Greek Cypriot immigrant parents. He was an altar boy at the local Greek Orthodox Church in Sunshine.[1] He fathered a daughter as the result of a casual affair; she was born shortly before his own death.[1]

Victoria Police say Veniamin was one of the most dangerous and feared men connected to Melbourne's crime scene, and by the time of his death in 2004 they had connected him with several of Melbourne's underworld murders.[2]

Veniamin worked at the wholesale fruit and vegetable market with Frank Benvenuto, who was killed in Beaumaris in May 2000.[2] He was also a known associate of Dino Dibra who was murdered at his home in October 2000,[2] and of Paul Kallipolitis, who was shot in similar circumstances two years later.

Veniamin met with Nik Radev on 15 April 2003, the day Radev was murdered in Coburg.[2] Veniamin associated with an underworld group known as The Carlton Crew and after 2003 was connected with the Williams Family, and was a close friend of Carl Williams.[3]

Roberta Williams[edit]

He was a close friend of Carl Williams and his wife Roberta. Although Roberta had previously rejected claims she and Veniamin were intimate, in early 2009 she admitted that he was her soulmate.[1] She said that every Tuesday he would pick her daughters up and take them to religion classes, bring them home and give them a bath. He said his favourite day of the week was Tuesday and Roberta said her younger daughter, Dhakota, idolised him.[1]

Death[edit]

Veniamin died in the La Porcella restaurant in Carlton on 23 March 2004 at around 2.30pm after being shot by former associate Domenic "Mick" Gatto. Gatto was charged with his murder but acquitted on self-defence grounds.[2]

During the trial, Gatto claimed Veniamin had pulled out a .38 pistol and threatened to kill him. Gatto claims that during a struggle he was able to turn the gun around on Veniamin and fire one shot into his neck, and one shot into the eye. Gatto also claimed that during the argument, Veniamin had implicated himself in the deaths of Dino Dibra, Paul Kallipolitis and Graham Kinniburgh; he is also believed to have killed underworld figure Victor Pierce.[4] His funeral was held at the Greek Orthodox Church in Sunshine, Melbourne, the same church where he had been an altar boy.[2]

In television[edit]

In the drama series Underbelly, he is played by actor Damian Walshe-Howling.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Devlyn, Darren (18 March 2009). "'Benji was my soul mate', says Roberta Williams". Herald Sun. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Lunch appointment turns out to be a date with death". The Age. 24 March 2004. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  3. ^ "The gangland war". The Age. 19 April 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  4. ^ Russell, Mark (19 June 2005). "Lawyers, guns and Gatto". The Age. Archived from the original on 3 June 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011.