When you think of famous crime families, you tend to imagine the Hollywood version of a Mafia family with such names as Luchesse, Gambino, and Genovese, but in reality they sometimes come with everyday names, although the level of drama is still the same. One such family operated in the streets of Melbourne, Australia, and while the Moran’s became a legendary name in the Aussie crime scene, it was the matriarch of the family, Judy Moran, who ended up achieving celebrity like status before her sordid past caught up with her.
It was perhaps due to the fact that Judy came from an entertainment background, her mother a dancer at the famous Tivoli, that made her love the spotlight so much. She was always quick with a one-liner, or anecdotal story, all of which made her a somewhat beloved figure on the media circuit. She also helped her public persona by claiming that she was just a wife and mother maintaining the family home, and one who was completely unaware of any shady underworld type dealings that any of the family might be involved in. That seems like something of a stretch, especially when you consider how well they lived, and how badly so many of them died.
Judy was born in December, 1944, and seemingly lived a fairly normal life until she met and married Leslie John Cole, or Johnny as he was better known. The couple had a son named Mark, who would later go on to take the Moran name. Johnny was known to be involved in the drug scene, and in 1982 he was gunned down in a drug-related incident, although by that time the couple had divorced and Judy had fled to the arms of Lewis Moran. Although they never married, Judy legally changer her last name, as well as that of her son’s to Moran. They in turn had a son named Jason, and while on the outside it may have looked like one big happy family, that was an image that would soon be shattered by a number of violent events.
While Judy always claimed that she was a regular housewife, she was also one that loved the finer things in life, and even in her autobiography she claimed to have no idea how Lewis was able to afford her with such an affluent lifestyle. The same must be said for her two sons, both of whom were living large, despite being out of work for extended periods of time. The deaths of all three men should have been enough to tip Judy off that something wasn’t quite right, that is if we are to believe her story of being kept in the dark all those years.
Her boy’s activities in particular should have raised suspicion, with Mark, a pastry chef by trade, albeit an unemployed one, owning a $1.3 million home in Essendon. Jason had spent some time in jail, and despite having no job, or any other sign of income, he could be spotted driving around the city in a flashy looking silver BMW. It turned out that the pair was involved in the manufacture and distribution of amphetamine powders and ecstasy, an occupation that cost them both their lives. Mark was shot and killed in 2000, with Jason suffering the same fate in 2003.
It was known that Lewis had a penchant for crime, although most of it was of the petty variety. Pickpocketing and theft were his signature crimes, but the lure of the big bucks, probably fuelled by Judy’s insatiable appetite for the 5-star lifestyle, led him into business with the boys. Lewis’s brother Des, also known as Tuppence, or Tuppy, was also a part of the family business, although not always on a permanent basis. Working side by side with his brother meant spending time with Judy, and it was no secret that the pair despised one another. Even after Lewis succumbed to the bullet in 2004, Des steadfastly maintained his hatred for Judy, and hated the fact that she continued to carry the Moran family name.
The feud between Judy and Tuppence continued to rage in the years following Lewis’s death, and when Tuppy was found murdered in June of 2009, the spotlight was immediately turned on Judy. Des had been helping Judy pay the bills for quite some time, and when he threatened to cut her and the grandkids off, the pressure became too much to handle. Judy had long has a bit of a love/hate relationship with Suzanne Kane, sister-in-law of her son Jason, but they saw eye to eye long enough to go after Des. Kane’s partners Geoffrey Amour, as well as another individual, who was later released by police, were all thought to be in on the murder of Tuppence.
The police alleged that Judy had hid the getaway car in her garage, and under surveillance, they caught her disposing of a pair of white gloves which were alleged to have been worn by the driver. A search of the Moran home led to the discovery of a safe, which contained guns, masks, and clothing, all of which witnesses to the crime had reported seeing the assailants wear. That was more than enough to take the case to trial, even though, on the police video of the search, Judy is seen talking to a police officer claiming to know nothing about the safe or its contents.
Almost two full years after the death of Tuppence Moran, Judy was found guilty of the murder, and sentenced to 26 years in jail, of which she will have to serve at least 21. It’s fair to say that her champagne lifestyle will come to a complete halt on the inside, but what is not clear is whether or not she is deserving of the title of Evil Lady; that is up to you, the reader, to decide.