Witnesses heard gun shots and a car travelling the wrong way down a one-way street in the early hours of yesterday morning when Melbourne criminal lawyer Pino “Joseph” Acquaro was gunned down in what was believed to be a professional hit.
Court documents show that there was a $200,000 contract on his head that had, according to The Herald Sun, been increased to $500,000 in recent months.
Acquaro who represented a number prominent crime figures, was allegedly wanted dead by the Calabrian mafia. He had been warned by police but he refused to take safety precautions, according to a report by The Age
“I'm isolated. They can't physically harm me,” he told The Herald Sun
“I'm not afraid of dying.”
But he had severed ties with many of his former Calabrian mafia clients.
He was shot dead as he walked to his car, parked on a Brunswick East street, after he had shut his gelataria and café at around 12:40 for the evening. His body was found by a rubbish truck driver who called emergency services at around 3am.
Acquaro started running the café, Gelobar five years ago. In January, the store was damaged in a suspicious fire. Though police said it was over a minor dispute, they would look into any possible links to the murder.
Acquaro was known in the community as a lawyer and businessman who would help disadvantaged Calabrian community members.
Previously the president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and heavily involved with Brunswick’s Reggio Calabria club, Acquaro was an advocate of his culture and business in Melbourne.
“He was so down-to-earth, everyone loved him, I've got my whole staff in tears,” said George Mirabella, owner of a nearby store.
“And he bought in some cannoli. That's the type of gentleman he was. I can't believe it.”
Police are now looking into CCTV footage in the hope that they may be able to see the car used by the shooter.