THERE’S a grandmother out there who knows what evil is, a woman who has plumbed the depths of her emotions to find the strength and love to defend the memory of her two murdered sons.
Her name is Judy Moran and I spoke to her recently. It was a conversation that will stay with me. It lead me to contemplate a mother’s loyalty to her children, even when confronted with their abhorrent acts.
She is the mother and matriarch of alleged drug dealers and suspected murderers (and now murdered) Jason and Mark Moran. Jason was murdered at Auskick in front of his kids.
Her two ex-husbands, Lewis Moran and Leslie ‘Johnny’ Cole were shot
Not your average grandmother, to say the least. Most Victorians have followed her family’s story through the press due to their significant role in Melbourne’s gangland wars.
The rest of us now know her boys through the new hit series, Underbelly. The series has been widely debated for both its accurate portrayal or, in Judy Moran’s words, its “countless inaccuracies”.
For the record, at time of interview, Judy had seen only two episodes of this Aussie equivalent of The Sopranos, as she lives in Melbourne where the series is not being screened due to legal reasons. Bizarrely she had a knock at her door from two journo’s at the Herald Sun who decided to drop over a couple of copies. “It was really quite surreal as I watched both episode’s for the first time with two strangers in my living room.”
“My sons were not murderers, that’s why they are in heaven, and Carl Williams is in jail!” she says.
Carl Williams, the ex-driver of the Moran’s who went on to become Australia’s worst serial killer, arranged the murder of both Moran boys.
Does she accept that when boys love their mothers, the last person they want to know that they’re up to no good, or that they have a drug problem, is their mum?
“I would say yes, I was the last to know that there were things going on,” says Judy.
“I’m not trying to paint my boys as angels by any means. I think they had a bit of rough on their feathers. They weren’t perfect, but who is?”
A case of mother’s blind faith? Would you as a mother be the same?
I asked her about a scene in the show where gangster Alphonse Gangitano and Jason Moran violently burst into a Melbourne pool hall and go on a bloody rampage. Was her son – in her eyes in Heaven – in any way at fault?
“I saw the footage from the club and I couldn’t believe the boy that had grown up with our family (Alphonse) could be hitting people with pool queues like that,” she says.
“He was always such a nice boy! And yes I admit Jason did throw a few punches, but that’s all he really did!”
For the record, Jason was convicted of gouging the eye out of a young Fijian man during the attack. He was later suspected of Gangitano’s murder.
During the course of our chat, I couldn’t help but like this lady. Later, I found myself wondering if my tendency to give people the benefit of the doubt (despite sometimes staggering odds) had left me with a distorted view of Judy.
What if I was the mother of these boys? Would I apply even greater leniency? And I couldn’t help but think perhaps this wasn’t simply blind faith but, instead, a display of great acting drawn from decades of defending her boys.
Or was she just simply a mother who, despite what her beautiful boys allegedly did, wanted to hold tight to her dream of what they could – or should – have been.
Which brings me back to the question – how far would you go as a parent to defend your child when the facts seem irrefutably stacked against them?
Does that make you a bad person? When does unconditional love become a slap in the face to a victim, or indeed the mother of that victim?
I’m not a mother but I would bet that it must be mighty hard to detach from “the little boy” you think you have and realise who – outside of family dinners and Mother’s Day presents – they’ve actually become.
WOULD YOU LIE TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY?