Days shy of the 10th anniversary of Melbourne man Mohammed Haddara’s murder, his killer has been jailed for at least 18 years.
Ali Chaouk was today sentenced to a maximum 24 years behind bars for shooting his 28-year-old family rival in the driveway of the Haddara family home at Altona North.
Chaouk was convicted in December of the June 2009 murder.
Mr Haddara was shot five times from behind, outside his Fifth Avenue home, after an argument about a Mercedes he had borrowed for his sister’s wedding.
Before Justice Kevin Bell handed down his sentence, Chaouk maintained his innocence, describing the guilty verdict as a “big shock to everyone” and declaring plans for an appeal.
“I maintain my innocence from day one,” he said.
“I don’t accept the verdict. It’s unsafe. It’s a miscarriage of justice.”
Chaouk has spent 13 of the past 14 years behind bars, committing the murder in his one year of freedom.
Ahmed Hablas, the cousin of Chaouk’s wife, initially confessed to the killing but retracted his statement and was acquitted by a jury in 2011.
He later said he’d confessed out of fear. He gave evidence against Chaouk at trial.
Justice Bell said that course of events was unprecedented in the Supreme Court.
He said intergenerational family violence against others was a feature of Chaouk’s family history.
When he was 10, Chaouk saw his father shoot a man. His brother was killed in a police raid in 2005 and his father, crime family patriarch Macchour Chaouk, was shot dead in the months before Mr Haddara’s killing.
Justice Bell said he hoped Chaouk understood the violence must stop, and that he might play a role in stopping it.
He was guarded about his rehabilitation prospects, but believed it was possible.
As the anniversary approaches next week, Justice Bell acknowledged Mr Haddara’s family would be grappling with the tragedy, which had widespread effects on the community.
He praised a woman who rushed into the street to protect Mr Haddara’s body until police arrived.
“The court commends this woman. She brought credit to the community,” he said.