CARL WILLIAMS had it coming. When he survived being shot in the belly in a confrontation with the Moran brothers in 1999 he unleashed a chain of violence that ended with his own death.Few will genuinely mourn Williams, but a man accused of a notorious underworld murder will be relieved today because a potential witness against him has been silenced forever. That ugly fact will ensure investigators will be raking over Williams’ death for some time. The manner and timing of his death poses questions about the administration of justice and the prison system.There are all sorts of rumours. Some are funny, some are nasty and some, particularly inside prisons, can be very, very deadly.Police will investigate if one of those rumours – that Williams had abandoned the code of silence and become a police informer – was the reason he was fatally bashed yesterday inside the maximum security Barwon Prison.Police said Williams, 39, was approached from behind and struck in the head with the steel stem of an exercise bike just before 1 pm yesterday.Rumours have been circulating in the underworld for nearly 12 months Williams was trying to cut a deal where he would give evidence in major cases in return for a substantial reduction in his crushing jail term.He was sentenced to life with a minimum of 35 years in 2007 over four underworld murders.Detectives say the attack was unlikely to have been prompted by a report in yesterday’s Herald Sun police paid the private school fees of Williams’s daughter.Inmates are avid readers of newspapers and many would have asked themselves why police would have paid school fees on behalf of a man they spent a fortune convicting.In jail reality means nothing. Perception is everything. It doesn’t matter if an inmate talks. If others believe he has then his life is in danger.A prison war raged in Pentridge for years after it was said standover man Mark Brandon Read ate more than his share of sausages set aside for the H Division Christmas lunch. So if you can be stabbed over smallgoods, rumours of spilling the beans can be fatal.But the attack on Williams was no kneejerk reaction to a front-page story. It was orchestrated, co-ordinated and was perhaps months in the planning.For Corrections Victoria there was no inmate more closely monitored. Senior prison officers knew he would always be a target from two opposed camps.First, by allies of the Moran clan, the family he sent to the brink of extinction, and secondly by inmates who would want the chance to gain infamy by killing a big fish.He was kept in the maximum security Acacia unit against his wishes and only allowed to associate with two other inmates for a few hours a day. Authorities checked regularly to see there had been no changes in relationships and once moved a prisoner out of the area after they felt there was a cooling in their friendship.Williams wanted to be out of Acacia into a mainstream prison. Prison authorities saw that as too great a risk.Officials thought Williams and the men in his unit were thick as thieves (or more accurately murderers and drug dealers).The two, murderer ”Little Tommy” Ivanovic, and his mate, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were old allies. Now police believe at least one was biding his time to attack. But why?Certainly one is alleged to have an interesting array of friends and acquaintances, including colourful former police. It will be a lead explored by homicide squad detectives investigating the murder.The attack was captured on closed circuit video and witnessed by at least one onlooker.Police sources say it is alleged Ivanovic’s mate did the bashing and, amazingly, Ivanovic just happened to be on the telephone during the attack. The sources said he provided a blow-by-blow coverage on the phone – a fatal version of TV Ringside.All calls from Acacia are recorded. Police will have to establish whether the call was a startling coincidence or a cunning alibi.This was a crime where the offenders would have to believe any extra jail time would be a price worth paying.But why? And more importantly – on whose orders?Williams’s lawyer, Rob Stary, said he spoke to his client yesterday and there was nothing to suggest any threats. ”There is a real need for an external inquiry separate from police and prison authorities into how this could happen. It is clear that the full story can’t be told at present.”The Police Minister, Bob Cameron, said police, the coroner and the Officer of the Correctional Services Review would investigate the attack.Williams was convicted of the murder of Michael Marshall and later pleaded guilty to the murders of Jason Moran, Lewis Moran and Mark Mallia. He was suspected of the murder of Mark Moran. In 2007 he was jailed for 33 years – a sentence he felt was unfair as he didn’t start the war.He was right – he didn’t fire the first shots. It began when he was blasted by Jason and Mark Moran in a park in October 1999.Even then Williams knew the danger of being branded a police informer. The former supermarket shelf stacker knew that in the murky underworld, perception was more important than reality.Police believe Williams was involved in more killings, including the shootings of Richard Mladenich, Nik Radev, and Graham ”the Munster” Kinniburgh.He was a potential goldmine of information that will never be exploited. The Deputy Commissioner of the Victoria Police, Ken Jones, said yesterday the death would affect other investigations.As an underworld killer Williams knew the best way to get close to a target was to employ a friend to set them up.It is no different inside. Williams always believed he was more likely to be killed by a supposed friend than a known enemy.He was right. Dead right.