Mokbel's fears finally face reality

Tony Mokbel seen wearing a wig at the time of his arrest in an Athens cafe in June 2007.
Tony Mokbel seen wearing a wig at the time of his arrest in an Athens cafe in June 2007.

In the months after being caught hiding under a bad wig in an Athens cafe, Tony Mokbel fought his hardest to convince authorities that his life was in danger if he was returned to Australia.

In 2007 and 2008 Antonios Sajih Mokbel told the European Court of Human Rights and the Greek Supreme Court that criminals and corrupt police in Australia wanted him dead.

It's taken a decade for his fears to be realised at the end of a shiv.

Stabbed three times, Mokbel was left in a critical condition after an apparent power struggle inside Victoria's Barwon Prison.

But there was a time when Fat Tony was the untouchable king of Melbourne who allegedly had criminals, police and even some judges in his pocket.

Born in Kuwait on August 8, 1965, Mokbel came to Australia with his Lebanese parents as an eight-year-old, settling into Melbourne's northern suburbs.

He found his first job washing dishes in a nightclub, progressing to bouncer.

At the age of 19, he bought a struggling milk bar which continued to struggle under his ownership. He realised there were better ways to make money and by 2000, boasted he owned 38 companies - including nightclubs, cafes and clothing stores, as well as the occasional multi-million dollar mansion. He had acquired another nickname by then - The Octopus, he had so many hands in everything. The bulk of his vast wealth allegedly came from running most of Melbourne's drugs trade, which police believe he still directed while on the run after skipping bail in March, 2006. He fled Australia while on trial for importing nearly two kilograms of cocaine from Mexico, taking an elaborate escape route supposedly plotted by Lewis Moran - one of the two men he was accused of murdering two years earlier. While on the run, he was sentenced to a minimum of nine years for importing the cocaine and was later charged with the murders of Moran and drug dealer Michael Marshall. Police alleged he sent $20 million offshore before embarking on a route which started with seven months hiding out in Bonnie Doon in rural Victoria before taking him on a road trip to Western Australia. He sailed out of Perth disguised as a Maronite priest on a yacht called The Edwena to Malaysia with a fake passport in the name of Stephen Papas. He reportedly survived a shoot-out with business rivals in the northern Lebanon town of Shikka, paid a visit to the races in Dubai and then settled into a life of luxury in Greece. He was joined in Athens by girlfriend Danielle McGuire who gave birth to their daughter Renate in Greece. Mokbel had been on the run for 15 months before his arrest on June 5, 2007, in the Definia Cafe in the plush Athens suburb of Glyfada. But he had been shunning the law since his first conviction in 1983. He appeared before the courts 12 times for 19 convictions between 1983 and 1992, including counts of conspiring to traffic cocaine and heroin. One count of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice when he tried to bribe a County Court judge cost him a 12 month jail term in 1992. During the mid 1990s, his interest in horse racing blended with high fashion as he controlled a big punting syndicate known as the track suit gang. His gang of punters decked out in designer tracksuits would place massive late plunges with bookmakers at racecourses in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, making a killing and cleaning some dirty cash along the way. He allegedly began making his own drugs in the late 1990s, reportedly emerging unscathed from an explosion in 1997 in a drugs lab in Brunswick which had produced $78 million worth of pure methylamphetamine. Over the next eight years, he was charged over amphetamine manufacturing, possessing and trafficking amphetamines, ecstasy, ephedrine, cocaine, hashish and LSD. But nothing seemed to stick fast enough to put him away for long. He was bailed in September, 2002 after 12 months in jail but two months later, was told he was to stand trial for importing the cocaine from Mexico. He didn't see the end of that trial. Having again been granted bail during the trial, he vanished on March 20, 2006, days before he was convicted and allegedly following a tip off from gangland lawyer Zara Garde Wilson he would be charged with Moran's murder. In his absence he was sentenced to 12 years, with a minimum of nine, for the drug smuggling. In February, 2007, Mokbel was charged with Moran's 2004 murder. Four months later, Purana task force detectives charged him over Marshall's shooting in the driveway of his South Yarra home in 2003. Despite his protests, he was dragged home on a private jet from Greece in 2008, to finally face justice again. True to form, the murder charges couldn't stick and he was acquitted of both killings. But, defying his natural inclinations, he pleaded guilty in 2011 to three charges of trafficking and conspiring to import drugs. The court ignored his bid to change his pleas and, after two decades of fighting Tony Mokbel's criminal reign, put their man away for 30 years. The life he feared for is almost certain to end in jail, naturally or not.

Australian Associated Press