Melbourne underworld widow Judy Moran is fighting the murder conviction that landed her behind bars, claiming her brother-in-law was killed over a drug deal.
Moran, 72, was sentenced to 26 years in jail in 2011 for plotting the murder of Des “Tuppence” Moran in a dispute over money.
But her barrister, Robert Richter QC, now says she should be granted the opportunity to appeal because new information suggests a drug deal – completely unrelated to her – may have been behind the killing.
Moran’s lawyers last year discovered a trial witness, Salvatore Agresta, was on bail and facing serious drug charges at the time of the 2011 hearing.
But the defence wasn’t told Agresta – the owner of the Ascot Vale deli where Mr Moran was shot – had been charged in connection with a major crime syndicate and therefore didn’t ask any questions about it.
The syndicate’s key players often met at the deli and there were suspicions Mr Moran had stolen drugs from them, Mr Richter told the Victorian Court of Appeal on Friday.
The barrister also suggested hitman Geoffrey Armour and his girlfriend had a motive to kill Mr Moran because he’d told people they were responsible for stealing the drugs.
“That’s what was being passed about,” the barrister told the court.
Agresta should have been cross-examined about the “comings and goings” in his deli, Mr Richter said.
Prosecutor Chris Boyce SC on Friday said the Crown wasn’t aware Agresta was facing charges at the time of the trial.
He conceded that if the charges had been known, the defence should have been informed.
But the prosecutor also added: “It’s impossible to say what defence might have turned up if they had known about this during the course of the trial.”
Agresta was sentenced to 16 years’ jail with a non-parole period of 11 over his role in the drug syndicate – which was behind the world’s largest ecstasy bust.
During her trial, Moran said she had nothing to do with the murder and at the time had been tending the grave of her son, Mark, who had been shot dead in Melbourne’s gangland war nine years earlier.
Armour pleaded guilty and was handed the same sentence as Moran.
Moran’s legal team will be granted access to police materials relating to Des Moran and the drug syndicate.
If they can establish a link they’ll ask the court to hear Moran’s appeal.
“There is enough material there to raise concern,” Mr Richter said.