Unseen photo shows Carl Williams and his hitman at the height of Melbourne's Underbelly gang war

Smiling as they posed in a friendly embrace, you could never tell two of Australia’s most notorious gangsters were bumping off rivals all over Melbourne.

Youthful-looking drug kingpin Carl Williams and hitman Andrew ‘Benji’ Veniamin were at the height of their gang war and within years would be dead or in jail.

By the end of the bloody gangland conflict, made famous by TV series Underbelly, 36 people would be dead – seven personally murdered byVeniamin.

The never-before-seen happy snap from the late 1990s or early 2000s was shared on Instagram by Williams’ widow Roberta this week.

Pictured: The never-before-seen photo taken at the height of Melbourne's bloody gang war shows drug kingpin Carl Williams (right) and notorious hitman Andrew 'Benji' Veniamin (left)

Pictured: The never-before-seen photo taken at the height of Melbourne’s bloody gang war shows drug kingpin Carl Williams (right) and notorious hitman Andrew ‘Benji’ Veniamin (left)

Benji Veniamin was portrayed by Damian Walshe-Howling (pictured)on the TV show Underbelly

Carl Williams' character was played by Gyton Grantley (pictured) on the TV show Underbelly

Carl Williams’ character played by Gyton Grantley (right) on the TV show Underbelly, was the central figure in the gritty real life drama along with Benji Veniamin, who was portrayed by Damian Walshe-Howling (left)

Roberta Williams uploaded the chilling throwback with a heartfelt caption to her beloved husband, who was bashed to death in jail in 2010.

‘I thought of you a little bit more than usual today, if that is even possible,’ Ms Williams wrote.

Carl Williams’ character played by Gyton Grantley was the central figure in the gritty real-life drama Underbelly along with Veniamin, who was portrayed by Damian Walshe-Howling.

The two men fought for control of the Melbourne drug trade ruthlessly stamping out their competitors including the infamous Moran brothers.

But eventually William’s life of crime caught up with him and he was convicted of enlisting the help of others to carry out contract killings in exchange for large cash payments.

Williams was jailed for 35 years in 2007 for ordering the murders of three rivals, and more time for conspiring to kill a fourth.

Roberta Williams (right) is pictured with Carl Williams (left) and their daughter Dhakota (centre)

Roberta Williams (right) is pictured with Carl Williams (left) and their daughter Dhakota (centre)

Pictured: Their daughter Dhakota Williams is now 20 years old

Pictured: Their daughter Dhakota Williams is now 20 years old

But Williams was beaten to death in a jail-yard stoush at Barwon Prison near Geelong by another inmate – Matthew Johnson.

His death followed an investigation revealed Victoria Police was paying $8,000 per year for his daughter’s school fees.

It was later revealed Carl was an informant and had given information regarding a handful of unsolved murder investigations.

Carl wrote several long letters to his wife and others from jail in the months before he was murdered, that have since been made into a bookLife Sentence.

Ms Williams told Herald Sun she would’ve preferred Carl was ‘shot on the street’ than inside his cell.

‘No one deserves to be killed like that,’ she said.

Pictured: The couple kissing at their wedding

Pictured: The couple smiling at guests

Ms Williams shared photographs earlier this year from her wedding to Carl for the 10 year anniversary of his death

She frequently mourns him on her social media, including last October on what would have been his 50th birthday.

‘The laughs we had filled my heart with forever happiness and a lifetime of amazing memories,’ she wrote in a gushing post.

‘Even though it’s your birthday you left me the greatest gift of a lifetime in our beautiful precious daughter.

ou were always the life of the party, even though you always said “don’t get me a cake Bert” because you never liked being the centre of attention.’

Benji was shot in the head byDomenic ‘Mick’ Gatto in the back of the La Porchetta restaurant in Carlton’s Lygon Street in 2004 and never faced justice.

Gatto was charged with murder but acquitted on the grounds of self defence.

Hitman Andrew 'Benji' Veniamin (pictured) 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

Hitman Andrew ‘Benji’ Veniamin (pictured) 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

Melbourne underworld figure and accused drug baron Carl Williams (at front on left) carries the coffin of Andrew "Benji" Veniamin

Melbourne underworld figure and accused drug baron Carl Williams (at front on left) carries the coffin of Andrew ‘Benji’ Veniamin

Drug kingpin Tony Mokbel claimed Veniamin was a ‘good bloke’ but the underworld was relieved when he was killed because no-one knew whose side he was on.

During a 45-minute conversation with police, Mokbel said himself, Carl Williams and others were willing to ‘do a little bit of time’ 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 shot.

His death was discussed along with other pivotal murders and moments during the gangland wars.

‘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.

‘In one sense we’re very relieved Mick (did) what he did.’

WHO WAS CARL WILLIAMS?

Pictured: Williams leaving a Melbourne courthouse in 2003 after being granted bail

Pictured: Williams leaving a Melbourne courthouse in 2003 after being granted bail

Carl Williams has been described as Australia’s most notorious gangster due to his central role in Melbourne’s ‘underbelly’ gangland war which shook the city in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Williams was serving a life sentence in Melbourne’s notorious Barwon Prison for four murders and conspiracy to commit another when he was bashed to death by fellow inmateMatthew Charles Johnson with a exercise bike part on April 4 2010, making him the last victim of the underworld war.

KEY EVENTS

October 13 1970: Born Carl Anthony Williams in Melbourne, Victoria.

1990: Convicted of handling stolen goods, possession of stolen property and failing to answer bail. Fined $400.

1993: Convicted of criminal damage and throwing a missile. Sentenced to 150 hours of community service work.

1994: Convicted of attempting to traffic in a drug of dependence. Sentenced to 12 months’ jail, six months suspended for two years.

October 13 1999: Williams is shot in the stomach by Jason Moran over an $80,000 debt to the Moran crime family, and stumbles bleeding to his parents’ home in Essendon.

November 25 1999: Williams is arrested with his father George and another associate and charged with drug trafficking after $20million worth of amphetamine tablets were seized.

June 15 2000: Mark Moran, Jason Moran’s half-brother is shot dead outside his north-west Melbourne home. Williams was charged with murder over the shooting but charged were dropped when he pleaded guilty to three other killings.

November 10 2010: Williams’ home in Hillside and his Mercedes Benz are damaged by shotgun blasts. Williams later testified he believed the Morans were responsible.

June 21 2003: Jason Moran andPasquale Barbaro are gunned down while sitting in a van after watching Moran’s children play football.

August 18 2003: The badly-burnt body of Mark Mallia, a close associate of murdered mob enforcer and drug dealer Nik Radev, is found in a melted wheelie-bin.

October 25 2003: Drug dealer Michael Marshall is gunned down in front of his son in South Yarra.

March 31 2004: Moran family patriarch Lewis Moran, father of Jason Moran, is shot dead execution-style in the Brunswick Club in Melbourne.

June 9 2004: Police arrest two gunmen near the home of notorious gangster Mario Condello.

February 6 2006: Mario Condello is shot dead in his driveway.

July 19 2006:Williams pleads not guilty to the murder of Michael Marshall but is sentenced to 27 years – 21 without parole – over the killing. The outcome of the trial is not revealed until 2007.

May 7 2007: Williams pleads guilty to three counts of murder over the deaths of Jason Moran, Mark Mallia and Lewis Moran, andand one count of conspiracy to murder Mario Condello. He is sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment and given two 25-year jail sentences, all to be served concurrently with a minimum term of 35 years before eligible for parole.

April 4 2010: Williams is bashed to death in Barwon Prison by inmateMatthew Charles Johnson, 38, who used an exercise bike seat stem in the murder.

December 8 2011: Johnson is sentenced to 32 years jail without parole for the murder of Williams.Victorian Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry found Johnson killed Williams because he was providing assistance to Victoria Police.

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