Remember Roberta Williams? The gangland widow is planning to steal Bill Shorten's seat.

Roberta Williams, 48, is a mother of five and lives in Essendon, Melbourne.

But today, she is best known as the widow of Carl Williams who was killed in a Victorian prison by a fellow inmate while serving a life sentence for the murder of Michael Marshall, Jason Moran, Lewis Moran, Mark Mallia and conspiracy to murder Mario Condello.

The character of Carl Williams was portrayed by Gyton Grantley in the 2008 series of Underbelly. Mr Williams was central to the Melbourne gangland wars from 1995 up to his arrest in 2004.

But yesterday, Ms Williams announced she will be running as candidate in the seat of Maribyrnong in Melbourne’s West, against Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

“So many wrongs have been done to me and other people,” she told reporters outside her Melbourne home this weekend. “That I believe need to be fixed and the Government at the moment doesn’t seem to know how to do that.”

Williams has had a markedly different life to Shorten.

Shorten was born in Melbourne, to a father who was employed as a waterside worker and union official, and mother who was a lawyer and university academic. He attended Xavier College, one of Melbourne’s most prestigious high schools, before studying at Monash University.

Williams was also born in Melbourne, to a father who was killed in a truck accident when she was only a baby. For most of her childhood, Williams endured abuse at the hands of her mother, and her mother’s boyfriends. She has shared memories of being beaten with a kettle cord, being locked out of her house in freezing cold weather, and having her head held underwater in the bathtub.


Once, Williams recalls, her mother attempted to pour nail polish remover in her eyes as a form of punishment.

Roberta Williams. Image via Getty.

Williams did not know a world without abuse, and the cycle continued with her first husband, Dean Stephens.

In her book, Roberta Williams: My Life, she writes, "One night I was so exhausted from sitting up... that I fell asleep on the floor."

"When I woke up, Dean was dragging me around the lounge room by the hair and smashing me in the face and head with a gun."


Later that night, he put the gun to her head, threatening to end her life.

Following the assault, she spent six weeks in hospital. Her and Stephens had three children together.

In the story of Roberta Williams, Carl Williams enters as somewhat of a 'saviour'. She maintains that there was no romantic relationship until her marriage with Stephens ended.

Carl Williams grew up in Melbourne's West, and held a number of odd labouring jobs. His older brother, Shane, died of a heroin overdose when Carl was 27 years old.

After the pair married, Carl became increasingly involved in criminal activity. In 1999, he was shot in the abdomen by Jason Moran, because he owed their family a large sum of money. For the next five years, Carl became embroiled in what is now known as the Melbourne gangland killings.

In the same year, Carl was arrested and charged with drug trafficking, alongside his father George. Police found more than 25,000 amphetamine tablets, which they estimate were worth at least $20 million.

The pair had one child together, Dhakota Williams.

In 2000, Mark Moran was fatally shot shortly after arriving home. It is alleged that the shot was fired by Carl Williams.

In 2003, Jason Moran and Pasquale Barbaro were shot dead while sitting in Moran's car in Essendon. The murder was witnessed by six children - all under the age of six. Moran and Barbaro were killed as a result of Williams' order.


In the early morning of August 18, 2003, there were reports of a fire coming from a storm water drain in Sunshine. When the fire brigade arrived, they discovered a bin full of human remains. They were identified as Mark Mallia, who was also killed as a result of Williams' orders.

Later that same year, Michael Marshall was shot and killed outside his home in South Yarra, within view of his five-year-old son.

In March 2004, Lewis Moran was shot at Brunswick Club - again ordered by Williams.

In the same year, Roberta Williams was charged with drug trafficking, after supplying 8,000 ecstasy pills to undercover police. She served six months in jail.

Three years later, Carl Williams pleaded guilty to the murders, and conspiracy to murder Mario Condello. Williams was never charged for the murder of Mark Moran, due to a deal with police.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a 35-year non-parole period, leaving 37-year-old Roberta with to raise four children on her own. Their relationship ended following Carl Williams' sentencing, but Roberta told The Herald Sun"I love him to death... We only (split up) because he just wanted me to move on."

At the time of his conviction, Roberta's mother died of a brain haemorrhage and her sister fell seriously ill.

In 2008, the first season of Underbelly premiered, with Carl Williams - notorious drug kingpin - as its protagonist. The Australian series told the story of the Melbourne gangland killings, which resulted in the death of 36 criminal figures.


Roberta Williams featured heavily and was played by Kat Stewart, who she said she wanted to "grab by the throat".

"When I  saw the show, of course I was angry," she told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Look at how I was portrayed as everything I'm not – a bad mother, a drug-taking person, a filthy-mouthed skank who helped make drugs and helped Carl organise crime. I'm far from that."

But eventually Roberta looked at the "bigger picture" and accepted Stewart had been given a script, and "played it as best she can".

Three years into his prison sentence, 39-year-old Carl was beaten to death with part of an exercise bike by a fellow inmate, Matthew Charles Johnson, in Barwon prison. There are rumours of significant compensation being awarded to Roberta and her daughter, Dhakota.

Last year, Roberta Williams was declared bankrupt by the Federal Court, after it was found she had $300,000 worth of unpaid taxes - a fact that could rule her out of a political future.

But this week, Williams has decided she deserves at least a chance.

"I have haters, I have likers, I have people who love me, we all do in society," Williams told reporters. "I believe that everyone deserves a chance at giving anything a go and if you've got the capabilities to do so, do it."

So could the widow of a gangland killer, who has been convicted of drug trafficking, challenge a private school educated, law-degree holding, leader of the Australian Labor party?

Who knows. Politics is a very strange business, after all.