Another gangster funeral story. Why another? Because gangster funerals are the other side of the coin of state or royal funerals. They offer spectacle.
Freshly interred in Australia is Carl ‘Fat Boy’ Williams. The convicted drug smuggler and murderer was just six years into a minimum 35-year sentence when he was beaten to death with parts of an exercise bike by fellow inmates in high security Barwon prison.
Fat Boy was the man behind gang wars in Melbourne which claimed thirty lives. Go to Wikipedia and find out all about him.
Peter Nordern, formerly chaplain of Pentridge prison, Melbourne, offered this advice to the officiating priest:
I got some early guidance [in conducting the funerals of criminals] from an old mentor, Father John Brosnan, my predecessor as chaplain at Pentridge Prison. I remember attending the funeral of Brian Kane, who was shot dead while enjoying a quiet ale in the Quarry Hotel in Brunswick in 1982.
As a trainee Jesuit at the time, I sat in the back pew at St John’s Church in East Melbourne, as “The Bros” began.
“There are three things that we do as we come together today for Brian’s funeral: we pray for the deceased, we extend our support and comfort to those who grieve and we look for a lesson for our own lives.”
On another occasion, as I attended Sunday morning church service at Pentridge during those years, “The Bros” told the assembled inmates that he had buried another well-known crim that week.
As he spoke, an old lag from the back called out: “But Fr Bros, Billy didn’t even believe in God.” Fr Brosnan paused a while, then a big smile stretched across his face from ear and ear, and he replied: “He does now!”
Watch Williams’s casket and family arrive at the church in which two of his victims’ funerals were held here.