Underbelly: articles

Underbelly to screen after ruling

Episodes one to five of Channel Nine's gangland series Underbelly will be broadcast in Victoria following a judge's ruling this morning.

Supreme Court Justice Peter Vickery granted permission for Nine to immediately screen a version of the five episodes, which have been edited for Victorian viewers.

A suppression order on the series imposed by Supreme Court judge Betty King on February 15 expired in May, when a jury found Evangelos Goussis guilty of murdering underworld figure Lewis Moran in Melbourne in March 2004.

Justice King believed the TV series would prejudice the trial.

On the day of Goussis' conviction, however, Victoria's Director of Public Prosecutions Jeremy Rapke, QC, issued a warning against any screening of the series.

"I will not hesitate to take contempt of court proceedings against any person or organisation that deliberately published Underbelly or any part of it," he said.

At that time, Mr Rapke said other underworld cases were still before the courts and he would ensure that accused persons involved in those cases received a fair trial.

The $13-million blockbuster series - starring Vince Colosimo and Marcus Graham - was a ratings hit nationally. The DVD of the gangland saga became the fastest-selling Australian drama series of all time.

Despite the Victorian ban, bootleg copies of the program were sold in Victoria within weeks and it was also available on file-sharing computer networks.

By Kate Hagan
September 8, 2008
The Age