When jailed Melbourne crime boss Carl Williams was bashed to death by a fellow inmate and former friend police seized everything they found in his high-security cell.
Among those personal possessions was a laptop computer the drug baron and killer had been allowed to use for the last 18 months of his dangerous life.
Six years after his death, Williams’s ex-wife Roberta made a court application to take ownership of the computer and its contents, some of which was hidden behind passwords.
Police initially refused that request due to what they said was the ‘sensitive nature’ of some of the documents but eventually gave up the fight.
That decision allowed Roberta to read half a million words in more than 240 letters Williams had written to family, criminal friends and prospective lovers.
Now many of those letters have been gathered in a book credited to Williams and called Life Sentence: My Last Eighteen Months.
When jailed Melbourne crime boss Carl Williams was bashed to death by a fellow inmate police seized everything they found in his high-security cell. Among those personal possessions was a laptop computer the drug baron and killer used to write letters. Williams is pictured in 2007
Six years after Carl Williams was murdered his ex-wife Roberta was given his jail computer which contained hundreds of letters Williams had written to family and friends. Some of the documents were hidden behind passwords. Williams is pictured with his daughter Dhakota
The letters detail the drudgery of day-to-day life in a maximum security prison, revealing Williams’s limited hopes for the future and major regrets about his past.
Some of the intimate communications are gentle and loving, others are combative, weary or mischievous, and several are extremely sexually charged.
They are reproduced in a fashion true crime author Adam Shand describes as ‘like meeting the man behind the myth’ for the first time.
Williams was jailed for 35 years in 2007 for ordering the murders of three players in the Melbourne gangland wars which claimed more than 30 victims in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He had already been sentenced for conspiring to murder a fourth.
In October 2008 he was allowed access to a computer and began writing letters – sometimes several a day – which he would then print them out to send by mail.
Williams wrote to family including Roberta and their daughter Dhakota and jailed criminals such as fellow drug baron ‘Fat Tony’ Mokbel and Mokbel’s brother Milad.
He warns Fat Tony he cannot beat the drug trafficking charges against him and criticises a book written by underworld figure Mick Gatto, whom he calls ‘The Don’ and ‘Highchair’.
The letters found on Carl Williams’s computer detail the drudgery of day-to-day life in a maximum security prison. The reveal Williams’s limited hopes for the future and major regrets about his past. Letters to daughter Dhakota (pictured recently) reveal his deep love for her
Once Williams began cooperating with Victoria Police in their investigations into Melbourne’s gangland killings, he was given increasing latitude about what he was allowed to write.
Williams had been in several relationships after he separated from Roberta and he writes to her about one of those girlfriends, Stacey Vella.
He also engages in pornographic correspondence with a woman called Kylie to relieve his sexual frustration behind bars.
All the letters were read by the prison’s postmistress, which Williams knew, but if he was ever embarrassed he clearly stopped caring at some point.
Publisher Richard Walsh explains some changes have been made to the text to protect the privacy of individuals or to respect court-ordered suppression orders.
‘However, apart from that, Carl’s letters have been reproduced without any of the editing that professional publishes normally impose,’ Walsh writes.
‘This has been done in order to give readers an unmediated experience of a man who, for all his many sins, loved his family and was a keen observer of human behaviour.’
In his last letter, dated April 18, 2010, and sent to a female friend, Williams writes of the appeal against his 35-year sentence being adjourned until January the next year.
Two days later he was bashed to death by former friend Matthew Johnson with the stem of an exercise bike seat in Barwon Prison’s high-security Acadia Unit.
Carl Williams had been in several relationships after he separated from wife Roberta and he writes to her about one of those girlfriends, Stacey Vella. Roberta (far right) is pictured with daughter Dhakota (centre) outside the Supreme Court in Melbourne in December 2018
This is an edited extract from Life Sentence by Carl Williams, published by Allen and Unwin – out now:
December 5, 2008 to Dhakota Williams
Well hello there my beautiful daughter, who I love with all my heart, I’m so proud of you, you are the best daughter – there’s no-one better than you.
I’m going ok, just missing you like crazy, I’m trying to keep myself busy by learning things in the computer, and playing games, which I’m enjoying its fun.
I am looking so forward to seeing you on Sunday.
I’ve been loving talking to you on the phone. I could talk to you all day, and all night, and still not have enough of you.
Hey I was going through my photos, and I found an old picture of your mum – don’t let her know I said that, otherwise she’ll bash the both of us up. 🙂 Ok tell her if you want – but if she hits me, you had better help me – or else!
I hope I get a letter from you soon, as I love it when I get letters from you.
Well my gorgeous girl, I’ll leave it there for now, and I hope you get off you bum and write back to me, as you know how happy that would make me – so do it don’t just talk about it.
Lots & lots of love,
Always & forever, you loving Dad
Williams wrote to his daughter Dhakota from the Acacia Unit of Barwon Prison, near Geelong
December 15, 2008 to Tony Mokbel
Dear Tony, I just received your letter, and it was my pleasure to hear from you again, as it always is.
You’re doing well on the treadmill. 12 kms in a hour is good, keep it up, it’s good for you mentally. I haven’t been on it that much lately, but when I do I only do 10–10½ km in one hour. I jumped on there the other day, and I did 30 minutes speed 10, and I was f***ed. I’ve been riding the bike a fair bit – as whilst I’m on there, I read, and it takes my mind off things.
‘I don’t think it matters if you have 10 Robert Richters,’ Williams tells his mate Tony Mokbel about his chances at trial. Richter is pictured
You asked me my thoughts on Julian McMahon. From all the good judges I’ve ever spoke to, he’s the best Junior barrister around – very thorough, good reader, and preparer. How is he on his feet? I have no idea. As for Terry Forrest (QC), I do not know him, nor have ever met him.
Mate I’m going to be completely honest with you, and tell you something that you probably don’t want to hear. I don’t think it matters if you have 10 Robert Richters, the way the media have portrayed you – like they did me – unfortunately the chances of you winning are minimal. The chances of you getting 8–9 acquittals are zero to none. Is it fair? No – but it is the truth, unfortunately.
Believe me, I know it’s extremely hard to accept, but once you accept that, you must accept on top of that, that you will be doing a large portion of your sentence in these environments – which isn’t healthy for anyone. Limited contact visits, limited phone calls, ect, ect, – it’s very political. I hate telling you this; however, after going through it all myself, I firmly believe this is the truth. I hope that they move me over there with you soon, then I can talk to you face to face.
I will get Stacey to ring your mate, and then go there wherever best suits him – again, can you please thank him very much for his generosity.
Keep in touch, and I hope to hear from you again soon.
With best wishes and respect, Your friend always – Carl
Williams wrote to his partner in crime Tony Mokbel, left and right, warning he had little chance of being acquitted on drug charges. He also commended ‘Fat Tony’ on his exercise regime
July 26, 2009 to Roberta Williams
Well as you know, I’ve had my phone taken off me, and f*** its boring without it.
I know I shouldn’t fall in that thing, as she’s not worth it. After she last came to visit me, I took her off my phone and visitors list. I can’t be bothered with her, and that’s exactly what I told her. But it’s easier said than done, especially in this environment, as you don’t have much to occupy your mind. Plus you know what I’m like, I let people get to me from now on though, I’m going to try my best not to. I have to try and stop myself from always getting to have the last say – after all, look where having the last say has got me. :)
You asked me how did I meet her, and I told you she wrote to me, and unfortunately I replied to her which I don’t usually do. I now wish I never did. The other night I was going through my letters, and believe it or not, I found the first letter that she wrote to me. [He reproduces here the first letter he ever received from Stacey Vella.]
I’m look so forward to seeing Kota today, as I’ve missed her so much. It’s the first visit I’ve had in two weeks.
I don’t really have much up to add, therefore I guess I will leave it there for now, and I hope to hear from you again soon.
Love & friendship – Carl – xx –
‘As much of a pain in the ass you could be at times, I for one most certainly have no regrets, and I wouldn’t have returned you, not even for all the money in the world,’ Williams wrote to ex-wife Roberta (both pictured). He signed off: ‘Love & friendship, always and forever – Carl -xx-‘
September 3, 2009 to Roberta Willliams
I trust this letter finds you in the very best of health and spirits, as it leaves me fine.
Thanks for coming to see me today, as I really enjoyed the visit, at first you weren’t in the best of moods – which given the current circumstances, is understandable – and why would you be?
Bert after talking to you today, I thought I’d write you this letter.
When you’re good, you’re such a pleasure to be around. I’m the first to admit that when I was outside, there were times when I took you for granted, and hurt you, everyone makes mistakes, and that’s one I’ll always have to live with, I don’t regret many things that I’ve done in my life – but hurting you – I do. I know that I’ll probably never in my life find another person who loved me like you did, but I can also assure you now – that I also loved you – and a lot more then you’d ever imagine to be possible. I could go on and on, but I won’t, as I’ve probably already given you a big enough head already. My point is you meant a lot to me, and you still mean a lot to me, no one will ever fill your shoes – never. I just thought I’d tell you that, so don’t you ever forget it. When Dean said I paid an amount of money for you – all I’ll say if that were the case, than you were well under priced, and he got short changed. If he wants to run with that, then I got a barging, and on top of that, I was the most satisfied customer in the world, no complaints from this end. As much of a pain in the ass you could be at times, I for one most certainly have no regrets, and I wouldn’t have returned you, not even for all the money in the world. Therefore, when you’re down, think of all the laughs, and good times we shared, as there were a lot of them, to many to mention.
Roberta, you were 100% right when you said that there were alot of girls that were jealous, and envious of what you had with me. They were because it was you who I gave so much attention to, who I gave my heart to, who I feel in love with, who I took care of, who I married, and not only let, who I wanted with all my heart to have my child, and you who I came home to. As you’re fully aware even Stacey was very jealous of you, she’d often say to me – Carlos, I hate it how Bert had the best of you, she’s so lucky, it’s not fair – why couldn’t I have had those years with you. Well let me assure you – you weren’t the only lucky one – because I consider myself extremely fortunate to have spent the time I did with you, and to have the memories that I do, and will always cherish.
I don’t really have much up to add, therefore I guess I will leave it there for now, and I hope to hear from you again soon, you said you have a broken foot – not hand, so you can write a letter ever now and again – True? 🙂
Love & friendship, always and forever – Carl -xx-
Williams continued to write to his former wife Roberta throughout his time in jail. Roberta was a strong supporter of her ex-husband, who tried to form relationships with women while in jail
Carl Williams was carried from his funeral in a golden coffin. He was 39 when he was bashed to death by a fellow inmate in the high-security Acacia Unit at Barwon Prison, near Geelong
20 October 2009 to Milad Mokbel
Well hello there buddy, how’s thing? All good I hope – as for me here I’m fine, no complaints.
Thanks for the B/day card.
Now Melanie – Hmmmm – you’ll have to get her to come up here to visit me, before I’d even think about entering into a trade now – Karina is hot, and reliable. 🙂 She came up here to visit me again last week, now I know why you didn’t want to let go of her. 🙂
I just finished reading the Dons book – what a f***ing joke. He puts me down every chance he gets too; and he also talks s**t about Tony, he is a complete f***king imbecile. I’ve never had anything to do with the bloke in my life – never even said hello to him if we crossed paths – that is accept for when he was playing detective, and was virtually begging me for his life, when he wanted to see me in the Casino – he even changed that story. Brad A. has nothing on him.
My dad enjoys his conversation with you – after he talks to you, he tell me what happened – but I find it hard to understand him, because all he does is laughs.
I don’t really have much up to add, therefore I guess I will leave it there for now, and I hope to hear from you again soon.
Keep in touch.
With best wishes & respect, Your friend always – Carl
Ps) Please give my love and best to your mum and family – tell little Robbie I miss him.
In a letter to Tony Mokbel’s brother Milad, Williams writes about Mick Gatto, who he calls ‘the Don’. ‘I just finished reading the Dons book – what a f***ing joke. He puts me down every chance he gets too; and he also talks s**t about Tony, he is a complete f***king imbecile’
5 October 2009 to Kylie
I just received your letter, dated 1 October – 3 pages – good work – I’ve got a smile for ear to ear – thanks to you – and it was my absolute pleasure to hear from you again, as it always is.
You made me laugh when you said you rang the prison, I’m not allowed to have shirts, or anything like that dropped off, or sent in. I’m in one of the Management/High Security Units, and what we can have is different to what other people in other sections of the prison can have. We’re only permitted to wear RED clothing – and none can be dropped off – the prison supply us with it all – I don’t know what’s with the red – maybe it’s makes a better bullseye – only joking. I’m only permitted to have jocks, socks, books and magazines dropped off to me – I don’t need anything though – your letters make me happy enough. As for you jumping out of the box – well I’m not even going to entertain that subject. Good try. 🙂
You ask how it feels to be getting old. What are you getting younger, smartass! I honestly feel younger now than I did 5 ½ years ago, so I don’t think that I’m in a position to answer your question. Anyway, your beautiful mother said I don’t look my age – do you agree???? If so how old do you think I look? Remember to be nice, as you’ll be coming to visit me soon – you promised.
You asked if I ever thought I’d have more kids – I would’ve liked to have more kids – I would’ve liked to have had a boy. I always thought Dhakota was going to be a boy – but I wouldn’t swap her for anything in the world – I love her with all my heart, she’s everything to me.
In his last letter, dated April 18, 2010, Williams writes of the appeal against his sentence being adjourned until January the next year. Two days later he was bashed to death by former friend Matthew Johnson (pictured) with the stem of an exercise bike seat in Barwon Prison
Sneak away and come and visit me, sounds good, actually it sound like we’re being naughty – so you’ve got yourself a deal. 🙂 Lara isn’t that far – you don’t need an overnight trip – you’re funny, you talk like I’m on the other said of the world. As for making a good impression on other people here – when you come to visit me you won’t see anyone else. As box visits are held in cubicles, and the contact visits here where I am, are not in the main visit centre – they’re in a room, with just me and the visitors.
Obviously with box visits there’s no contact, as there is a glass separating you from one another. However, with contact visits, there is contact and you don’t have to keep your hands to yourself – they are contact visits. I am permitted to have 1 contact visit per month – that doesn’t include my visits with Dhakota, and box visits I’m aloud to have 2 per week.
Do I have a thing for your mum? She’s a beautiful person, and one whom I’m proud to call my friend. When all us boys were younger, we all thought your mum was so hot. You know what it’s like thinking a person in the neighbourhood is hot (LMAO).
I don’t really have much up to add, therefore I guess I will leave it there for now, as I suspect you’re had more than enough of me for now – true?
I look forward to hearing from you again very soon.
With love and best wishes – Carl -xox-
Life Sentence: My Last Eighteen Months , by Carl Williams, is published by Allen and Unwin and available now. Recommended retail price: $32.99
13 October 2009 to Kylie
Tonight I received a card, and letter from you – thank you, you sure do know how to put a smile on my face – so again thank you for that. I only wish I was out there, as I’d return the favour to you – with interest. 🙂
I’m glad you liked your two letters within the week, you felt special hey – and so you should, because you are, be careful you don’t topple over. Hey, just curious, how many times do you read my letters? Make sure you answer that question when you write back!
I wouldn’t mind being your dentist – you could come and see me any time you liked – I’d be more than happy to give you a drill and a clean, and don’t worry it wouldn’t be rushed one either, I’d take my time, and neither of us would want it to finish. I’d make sure you were one happy customer. After all, the better I treated you, the more chances there are of you returning – and I could say with confidence you’d be back. 🙂 As I said, I think you’ve met your match, and I think you know it. (LOL)
I know there have been some stories about me having IVF – take it from me – none of its true. I don’t know here they get it from – I’ve also read about Roberta saying that I was planning to have IVF babies with other girls – it’s never ever been discussed, so I hope I have answered your question.
You asked me when my release date is – well at the moment it’s too far away to even think about.
‘You asked me when my release date is – well at the moment it’s too far away to even think about,’ Williams wrote to a female friend called Kylie. Williams did expect to one day be moved to a medium security prison where he would be allowed six-hour contact visits with girlfriends
You said you’ll give me one week to catch up with all the important people, then you’ll expect me to take you out for dinner, what if I wanted to take you out sooner, because you were already in my company, as I seen you as one of those important people? You also said that most months you’re a vegetarian, what happens if this was one of the months that you weren’t, what would you order?? Especially if there was nice hot, juice meat on the menu, are you wet – I’m mean is your mouth watering? Or shall I just order for you, would you be needing cutlery?? I agree with you, I’m sure you could take me out and show me a good time, but I also quite well know without going into any details, that I could give you the best time of your life, and a time you’d never ever forget, leave it that for the moment. 🙂
What hussies can I have come in on a contact visit to see me? I don’t want hussies! I told you – when you come in, you can come in on a contact visit. But nah, you’d obviously prefer a box visit – scared hey? 🙂 The contact visits are just normal visits, held in a room, but no glass separating us. If you want to touch, hug, or kiss your visitor, you can – nothing else. Therefore, there’s nothing to clean up afterwards. Overnight visits – sounds good – hey, wouldn’t that make life easier. In years to come, when I eventually move onto a medium security prison, you can have 6 hours visits in a room, with your own privacy – as you put it, quality time.
So on that note, goodnight, and sweet dream – MWAH! 🙂
I look forward to hearing from you again very soon.
With love and best wishes,
Lots of hugs and kisses – Carl -xox-
*Edited version of a five-page letter.
Life Sentence: My Last Eighteen Months by Carl Williams, is published by Allen and Unwin and available now. Recommended retail price: $32.99
Matthew Johnson (pictured) turned on Williams when it was clear he was helping police
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