Man to stand trial for Vic lawyer murder

A man has been committed to stand trial for the murder of gangland lawyer Joe Acquaro.
A man has been committed to stand trial for the murder of gangland lawyer Joe Acquaro.

A Victorian labourer will stand trial for the murder of gangland lawyer Joseph Acquaro after pleading not guilty.

Vincenzo Crupi, 70, was on Thursday committed to stand trial over the death of the 54-year-old lawyer-turned-icecream vendor at Brunswick East on March 15, 2016.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Jelena Popovic heard evidence against Crupi during a four-day committal hearing at Melbourne Magistrates Court before finding it was sufficient for him to face trial.

The court heard Crupi was a labourer helping with renovation works at Mr Acquaro's Lygon Street gelati bar, Gelobar, in exchange for food and drink.

He later changed his mind, asking Mr Acquaro for money.

The lawyer handed over $1000 but refused a second request for money.

A month or so later, a suspicious fire broke out at the gelati bar, with Mr Acquaro telling friends and police that Crupi started the fire because he was disgruntled at not being paid.

Mr Acquaro was also seen punching and yelling at Crupi a month before he was shot dead, the court was told.

Mr Acquaro represented a number of high-profile gangland figures in Melbourne.

His insurance broker and friend, Tony Caruso, told the court earlier this week he had imagined his mate to be like "something out of the Godfather" due to the reputations of some of his clients.

Crupi is due to face the Supreme Court on Monday for a directions hearing.

Australian Associated Press