Australian criminals and their Crimes. Con artists, scum bags, murderers, corrupt cops, pollies, rapists and paedophiles will find themselves in this blog. It was expanded to also cover those that ought to be charged for their idiotic disgusting behaviour. Usually high-profile people who think they are above the law
The future of an Australian shark patrol charity looks in doubt amid a series of investigations into fraud and misappropriation of funds.
The ABC also understands that Harry Mitchell, the general manager of Australian Aerial Patrol (AAP), has been questioned by police over an attempt by an international drug syndicate to use the charity to launder the proceeds of crime.
The AAP — a shark spotting and emergency service which has operated on the New South Wales south coast for more than 50 years — is being investigated by police and government authorities for hundreds of thousands of dollars which allegedly cannot be accounted for.
Both claim they have not been paid. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority then grounded the entire fleet.
Mr Mitchell said he had a new chief pilot and was back in operation.
The charity has been facing financial difficulties for sometime.
But in early 2014 Mr Mitchell and the AAP board thought their financial woes were over when a consortium of businessmen, including pilot Bernhard Stevermuer, offered $1.5 million for the aircraft training and engineering side of the business.
Before the remaining money could be paid, the Middle Eastern Organised Crime (MEOC) squad arrested Stevermuer, who was charged and found guilty for his part in an international drug syndicate accused of flying drugs into Australia.
There is no suggestion that Mr Mitchell is part of the consortium or knew anything about the drug syndicate.
But police allege the $750,000 deposit was laundered through AAP and is money from the proceeds of crime.
The NSW Crime Commission has issued Mr Mitchell with a court order restraining the $750,000.
“The money has all been used. It’s all gone.” Mr Mitchell told the ABC.
Some AAP board members recently hired a forensic accountant to find out where the money went and why the organisation was in such financial trouble.
According to the report, Mr Mitchell paid for repairs and maintenance on his personal properties with charity funds.
He allegedly abused his fuel card and allegedly made suspect superannuation payments onto his American Express card.
As part of Mr Mitchell’s job to promote the shark patrol, he was paid by the charity to do traffic reports on local radio. He stopped doing the traffic reports in 2008 but he did not stop charging the charity.
“For about eight years he hasn’t been providing those traffic reports, but he has been paid a total amount of $127,000 for work he didn’t do,” Graham Pike, a former advisor to the board, said.
Now the Australian Taxation Office is allegedly chasing Mr Mitchell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We are dealing with that at the moment,” Mr Mitchell responded.
He also denied wrongdoing concerning the charity’s finances.
“I am not the treasurer. I didn’t have access to funds. I wasn’t the signatory. I didn’t have access to any of that,” Mr Mitchell explained.
But treasurer John Weston disputed that.
“That is far from the truth. He has obviously had his other people like his bookkeeper and other signatories on the accounts to do his work,” he said.
The two signatories on the accounts were contacted by the ABC but did not want to respond.
Councils had ‘no idea’ how many patrols were done
The number of shark patrols — which is what the AAP gets its donation for — has also apparently dropped off.
In the financial year of 2013, the shark patrol received $545,000 dollars in donations and income, but flight logs show just $15,000 was spent on aerial shark spotting.
A former staff member contacted the sponsors — who are mainly made of local councils including Wollongong, Shoalhaven and Kiama councils — to let them know that the patrols were being done ad hoc but received no response.
“Councils were giving money with absolutely no idea of how many patrols were being done. They had no Service Level Agreements in place and didn’t seem to care too much,” the source told the ABC.
Wollongong City Council told the ABC it was reviewing its funding and the principal sponsor, Bendigo Bank, has walked from its relationship with Australian Aerial Patrol.
The Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad, the local Illawarra police and the NSW Crime Commission are continuing their investigations.
The ABC also understands the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) were informed that Australia’s most famous shark patrol charity was in a parlous state and needed to be investigated.
The ACNC declined to comment.
Cancer-suffering pilot sentenced to jail over drug importation flight into Wollongong
A pilot has been sentenced to nine months in jail for taking part in an international drug ring by flying a small plane thought to have been carrying drugs into Australia.
Wollongong father Bernhard Stevermuer, 43, pleaded guilty in February after a plane was raided by police at Illawarra Regional Airport last July, following a Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad investigation into drug supply in the Sydney metropolitan area.
Police said Stevermuer had $70,000 in cash, his payment for flying the plane from the United States across the Pacific.
Stevermuer’s lawyer Mark Savicunsuccessfully argued that his cancer-suffering client took part in the deal because of his love of flying and wanting to secure his family’s finances.
Mr Savic said Stevermuer’s prognosis was that he had a 10 per cent survival rate over the next five years, but he was in remission.
He said “the excitement of flying a light aircraft all the way from the US back to Australia was a huge inducement in itself”.
“His love of flying caused him to be blind,” Mr Savic said.
Mr Savic described his client as a trustworthy, generous man who had contributed significantly to the aviation community.
Stevermuer admitted to the judge in a letter that he “thought it was too good to be true”, while another document tendered quoted his wife as saying he had an “ostrich-like stance”.
Sentencing magistrate in Port Kembla Local Court, Michael Stoddard, said Stevemuer may have been naive initially but said he “continued on dealing with these people and these serious offences that occurred”.
“One would wonder why he would put himself, particularly given the submissions made in relation to his family, why he would put these people in the position that he has,” hesaid.
Stevemuer’s lawyer argued he should receive a community service order or non-custodial sentence.
But the magistrate said that would be totally inappropriate and jailed Stevemuer until at least February 2016.
Stevermuer launched an immediate appeal against the sentence and has been granted bail ahead of a hearing.
A former West Australian police minister defrauded about 80 investors of $3.4 million, which was meant to be spent on shares in the failed fuel technology company Firepower, the WA Supreme Court has found.
Greedy prick, Gordon Leslie Hill, 65, a former Firepower director and minister in the Burke, Dowding and Lawrence State Labor governments, was ordered by Justice Andrew Beech earlier this month to repay the group of investors.
Former WA minister Gordon Hill defrauded Firepower investors of $3.4m, court finds
A former West Australian police minister defrauded about 80 investors of $3.4 million, which was meant to be spent on shares in the failed fuel technology company Firepower, the WA Supreme Court has found.
Gordon Leslie Hill, 65, a former Firepower director and minister in the Burke, Dowding and Lawrence State Labor governments, was ordered by Justice Andrew Beech earlier this month to repay the group of investors.
The civil action against Hill, 65, is the group’s first small victory in their long-running bid to recoup the money they paid for shares which they never received.
They are among many investors who lost money in the company, which claimed to have developed a magic petrol pill that improved fuel economy and reduced emissions from motor vehicles.
Firepower collapsed in 2007, taking $100 million in investors’ money.
The group of investors made deposits ranging from $2,000 to $200,000 between December 2004 and June 2005 into a trust used by Hill, who was then working as a solicitor, to buy shares in a Firepower company registered in the Cayman Islands.
But they never received their shares because Hill transferred their funds into companies that benefited himself as well as Firepower boss Tim Johnston, who had requested the money.
This included payments to companies called Green Triton, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, and Operations Firepower, which was registered in WA.
Hill ‘recklessly indifferent to obligations’: judge
Justice Beech said an email from Hill to Mr Johnston showed that he “was acutely conscious” he was not supposed to use the money in the trust, and “deliberately turned a blind eye to the obligations that he knew he had as a trustee”.
“It is a real problem for me sending funds from the Trust account in this way … Legally the money is not meant to be used until the shares are issued,” the March 2005 email said.
Hill denied he acted fraudulently, with his lawyer arguing he intended for investors to receive shares in a different Firepower company, registered in the British Virgin Islands.
But Justice Beech disagreed, saying “at best Hill was recklessly indifferent to his obligations”.
“He consciously put those obligations to one side when complying with Mr Johnston’s instructions and making the Trust Payments, thereby benefiting some or all of Green Triton, Operations Firepower, Mr Johnston and himself,” Justice Beech said.
The legal bid by the investors’ group first started two years after the company collapsed, but was interrupted by other legal battles as well as Hill going into bankruptcy between 2010 and 2013.
Investors seek to recoup money
The group’s lawyer, Stephen Penrose, said the next step would involve a means inquiry to determine how Hill would pay the investors.
If he cannot pay, they will look to recoup money from the Legal Contribution Trust, a fund established to compensate clients of solicitors who misappropriate trust funds.
Mr Penrose said the investors – as well as another group owed $1 million by Mr Hill but who were not part of the Supreme Court action – needed Hill to be found to have acted fraudulently to apply to the fund.
But he was not confident they would receive the full amount of money they were owed, including interest.
While some of the investors were wealthy, many were just average people.
“They are just normal people, mums and dads. That’s the shame – they were normal people who put in money,” he said.
The corporate regulator has announced there will be no further penalties against executives from the collapsed fuel additives business Firepower.
It is six years since Firepower collapsed, leaving investors who had poured $100 million into the company with nothing to show for it.
The business had spent liberally on sporting sponsorships and celebrity connections to promote its fuel additives, which were subsequently discredited.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) was successful three years ago in banning Firepower chairman Tim Johnston from managing another company for 20 years, while another executive was banned for six years.
The regulator says it has now finalised its investigation into possible criminal charges.
ASIC says the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has reviewed its brief of evidence and decided there is not a reasonable prospect of securing a conviction against Mr Johnston or anyone else linked to the company.
The Federal Court in Perth has banned the founder of the discredited fuel pill technology company Firepower from managing companies for 20 years.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) brought action against former Firepower chairman Tim Johnston after the company collapsed in 2008, leaving investors more than $100 million out of pocket.
Justice John Gilmour said Mr Johnston should be excluded for a very long period of time from having access to or control over shareholders’ investments.
He said it was the kind of conduct which diminishes investor and public confidence in the commercial markets.
Mr Johnston’s investment manager Quentin Ward has been banned from managing a company for six years.
Mr Johnston did not turn up in court today to hear the decision
IT HAS been revealed that an ambulance was called a week before the murder of toddler Sanaya Sahib because the little girl had suffered a seizure.
Sanaya’s body was found in a creek early Sunday hours after her mother Sofina Nikat claims a shoeless African man smelling of alcohol abducted her 15-month-old daughter while she was walking with her in Melbourne’s Olympic Park on Saturday afternoon.
A post mortem is expected to show she died of smothering, however police media said the results have not been finalised.
Meanwhile, her uncle Habib Ali has told the Herald Sun an ambulance was called to his Heidelberg West home, where the mother and daughter had been staying, a week before her murder because Sanaya suffered a seizure.
Mr Ali dismissed the episode as “nothing really”, but paramedics were worried the seizure had been triggered through a lack of oxygen via smothering, the Herald Sun reported.
Sanaya Sahib, 15 months, with her mother Sofina Nikat. Picture Facebook Source:Supplied
Sanaya Sahib. Picture: Facebook Source:Supplied
Memorial for 15 month old baby Sanaya Sahib, murdered at Darebin Creek.Source:News Corp Australia
Habib Ali, brother of Sofina Nikat and uncle of Sanaya Sahib. Picture: Hamish BlairSource:News Corp Australia
Police have not commented on what — if anything — was captured on CCTV cameras located have near the park where the abduction took place.
No independent witnesses have come forward to confirm the 22-year-old mother’s account. She is being kept in an undisclosed location and hasn’t yet been interviewed by homicide squad detectives.
She is said to be “hysterical”.
Ms Nikat gave chase after the alleged abductor but then returned home with the stroller.
Mr Ali told media outside his home Sanaya “didn’t deserve” what happened to her. She’s such a cute little kid … I don’t know why this happened. Whoever done it, shame on him, he is a coward.”
Ms Nikat and Sanaya had been living with Mr Ali after she split with Sameer Sahib, Sanaya’s father.
He said Ms Nikat was shocked and “crying a lot”.
“She doesn’t know what to do or what’s going on, obviously.” He said the family still did not know what had happened to Sanaya or how she died.
Darebin Creek, where Sanaya’s body was found early on Sunday morning.Source:News Corp Australia
He said the family had a lot of sympathy for Mr Sahib, who is struggling to understand what has happened.
Fairfax reported on Tuesday two men that Sanaya had contact with in recent days were facing serious criminal charges, including family violence and assault.
Victoria Police have not commented officially on the inquiry for almost 24 hours, other than to confirm no arrests had been made. But according to The Age, detectives were expected to investigate the links the men had to the slain toddler.
The tributes for Sanaya continued last night with soccer players from Heidelberg United Football Club last night observing a minute’s silence for Sanaya before their match against Port Melbourne.
Dozens of people have also left flowers and cards for the toddler near the creek where her body was found.
One crying woman said she didn’t know the family bit couldn’t believe something so tragic could happen in their community.
“RIP sweetheart. So very sorry for your family, our heart breaks with them,” read one of the many cards left alongside a soft pink toy.
—additional reporting: AAP
Update 10am 11/04/16
Police make desperate appeal for information about toddler Sanaya Sahib’s death
THE GRIEVING mum of toddler Sanaya Shaib has left her home as investigators continue to hunt for the 15-month-old’s killer.
The police forensics team are now searching a home address of the mother of the dead toddler. They have been joined by members of the homicide division. Forensics Police said they were expected to stay at the house for several hours.
Local residents paid tribute to the 15-month-old with flowers and teddy bears near where her body was found.
Forensic police have started their search of the house by checking discarded rubbish near the property and in the back garden.
Homicide Squad detectives were investigating after the discovery of the body at Heidelberg West this morning. The body was found in the Darebin Creek by four people searching together, about 2.45am.
Earlier police said the only suspect in the toddler’s death is described to be a man of African appearance, between the ages of 20 and 30, six-feet-tall, wearing black pants, a black hooded zipper top, no shoes and smelling heavily of liquor.
Detective Senior Sergeant Stuart Bailey said parents in the area should be alert and mindful of what they do.
“This is obviously extremely concerning for Victoria Police if this is a random abduction,” he said.
“We think it’s completely random at this point in time.
“We need to be careful and alert, given what’s taken place at this present time.”
The warning comes after the body of a child, believed to be that of Sanaya, was found in a creek in Melbourne’s north-east at 2:45am this morning.
The body was found by a family of four, including a child, who were searching for the girl after seeing a Facebook post requesting help from volunteers.
The family, who had also lost a child in the past whom they later found alive and well, found the toddler partially submerged as they were walking along the western side of Darebin Creek. The child will be taken back to the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine for a postmortem today.
Sanaya Shaib with her mother Sofina Nikat. Picture: Supplied.Source:Supplied
Sanaya was abducted from her pram in Olympic Park yesterday. Senior Sergeant Bailey said the toddler’s mother, Sofina Nikat, noticed the suspect walking towards her around 10:10am.
“That male has then folded behind her and has then pushed her to the ground, taken the child from the pram and run in a south-westerly direction on the eastern side of Darebin Creek, and crossed over a footbridge that takes you to the Northland Shopping Centre area and then pershaps towards Wood St,” he said.
“Once the child has been abducted, she (the mother) has chased the offender for a short period of time, realised she wasn’t making any ground there, so she has returned back to her home with the stroller and notified authorities there.
“We notified both the mother and father at 6:45am this morning (that the body had been found) and they are obviously in an extremely distressed state.”
Police don’t know how long the body had been in the creek.
A body has been found on the banks of Darebin creek. Picture: David CroslingSource:News Corp Australia
Crews armed with torches scoured Darebin Creek in Heidelberg West until late last night. Ms Nikat was assisting police, but they stressed she was not being held in custody.
Inspector Paul Tymms urged anyone who knew the location of the child to come forward. He said authorities were hopeful Sanaya was still alive.
Ms Nikat’s older brother, Habib Ali, said the family had been supporting the young mother after she recently separated from her partner. He said his sister had taken an unsettled Sanaya out for a walk but returned home soon after with dirt on her clothing.
Mr Ali said: “She came screaming and crying, she said, ‘Somebody’s snatched my baby’. She was mumbling out of control.
“I just pray to God that whoever’s done this, please return the baby.”
The mother’s family claimed her daughter had been snatched from her pram at a popular park in Melbourne’s northeast.
Inspector Paul Tymms confirmed on Saturday evening that the disappearance was being treated as suspicious.
Sanaya’s uncle Habib Ali told the Herald Sun his sister had been hysterical when she arrived home from a walk without the baby.
“I’m devastated,” Mr Aly said. “This is shocking … why would anyone want to hurt this little girl?
“We just don’t know what to do.”
Sanaya and her mother were visiting Mr Aly’s Heidelberg West home for the day, he said.
He said his sister told family that as they sat down on a park bench she noticed a man watching her.
“She said someone was standing and watching her … but she didn’t make anything of it,” Mr Aly said.
The man then undid the clips in the toddler’s pram, picked up the girl and ran away toward Northland shopping centre, Mr Ali said he’d been told.
Next-door neighbour Melynda Smith said the family were quiet and she had not heard any disturbances.
“We’re just terrified,” Ms Smith said.
“We are shaken up over the situation.
“You hear it in other states, you hear it in other countries … you don’t expect it to happen in your own backyard.”
She said the family was close and had hosted Sanaya’s first birthday party at Mr Aly’s Perth St home.
“They support each other,” Ms Smith said.
“I always see the mother out walking with her, getting fresh air … they are always spending time with the bub and the bub is never out of the mum’s sight.
“She is a very well cared for and looked after little girl.”
Mr Aly said he and his family had been supporting his sister through her separation from her partner, who lived in Hallam.
He said his sister and Sanaya had been staying in Mitcham but visited his home regularly.
The toddler was last seen wearing a short-sleeved white top with pink and yellow hearts, koala print pants, socks, and a black necklace with an oval locket.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au
Police said 15-month-old girl Sanaya Sahib, who had been missing since yesterday morning, was found in Darebin Creek in Heidelberg West by four people searching together just before 3:00am.
Detective Senior Sergeant Stuart Bailey said the toddler was with her 22-year-old mother, Sofina Nikat from Mitcham, at Olympic Park about 10:00am, when the little girl was grabbed and taken.
“[Ms Nikat] noticed a male walking towards her, that male has folded in behind her and has then pushed her to the ground, has taken the child from the pram and run in a south-westerly direction on the eastern side of Darebin Creek,” he said.
“He crossed over a footbridge that then takes you into the Northland Shopping Centre area and perhaps towards Woods Street.
“This is obviously extremely concerning for Victoria Police if this is a random abduction.”
Detective Senior Sergeant Bailey said police believed it was a random attack.
No wonder no bastard can get legal aid or a quick trial when snakes like this bloke suck the life out of the system. No excess payments when flogs like Pfenning need treatment.No expense sparred for legal help either. He must have cost the Government an easy 500,000 dollars so far.That do not include the estimated 90,000 a year per grub in jail. I have a relative that cannot afford the same operation and he has worked all his life paid taxes and never put a foot wrong…
Louise’s alleged killer ‘doing crossword puzzles’
THE man accused of murdering Louise Bell is conscious and “doing crossword puzzles” in his hospital bed following a heart attack, a court has heard.
Defence counsel, however, have questioned whether Dieter Pfennig is fit to stand trial after his ordeal — prompting a judge to request his cardiologist come to court and give evidence.
On Tuesday, Paul Charman, for Pfennig, said he knew no more about his client’s status than prosecutors did, and so the question of fitness had yet to be answered.
“We are arranging for my instructing solicitor to go see him in hospital this afternoon — clearly, we need to form a view as to whether he can provide us with instructions,” he said.
“Even if he doesn’t have cognitive issues, we need to know whether he will be fit to attend court and provide instructions.”
Mr Charman suggested obtaining medical reports, but Acting Justice Michael David said there was a quicker way for the court to be informed.
“A series of reports goes back and forth and could be messy — I’d like to call his cardiologist or specialist into court to give an opinion,” he said.
“After whatever the cardiologist tells us, it’s up to you to make whatever application you want to make.”
He adjourned the hearing until Wednesday, when the cardiologist will be called to give evidence.
Louise Bell was abducted from her home in January 1983. Now a man, Dieter Pfennig, is about to stand trial for her murder.
FOR 32 years the family of Louise Bell have waited for answers.
Their daughter and sister was abducted from her bedroom in her Adelaide home in the middle of the night in January 1983. Her body was never found.
They could now be closer than ever before to finding out what happened that night with confirmation a Supreme Court murder trial will open next week.
The accused, former teacher Dieter Pfennig, has had his identity suppressed ever since his arrest in 2013. Secrecy around his name ended today when a judge revoked the suppression order because Pfennig has opted for a judge-alone trial.
The cold case was one of the South Australia’s most gripping and troubling and has seen many twists over the past three decades, including the arrest of another man, Raymond John Geesing, 10 months after the disappearance.
Defence counsel for Dieter Pfennig, now aged 67, opted for a trial by judge alone.Source:News Limited
Louise Bell was taken from her Adelaide home. Her body has never been found.Source:Supplied
He was eventually freed after the conviction was overturned. For years the case remained unsolved until advances in DNA testing provided a breakthrough.
It was a pyjama top, found on the front lawn of a neighbour’s property, that proved crucial to the case. It was sent to the Netherlands for testing in 2013 and, in November of that year, now 67-year-old Pfennig was charged with the murder.
Prosecutors will allege Pfennig broke into Louise’s bedroom, which she shared with her sister, and abducted her on the night of January 4, 1983.
It wasn’t noticed she was gone until the next morning when her mother Diane couldn’t find her. A flyscreen had been cut to get into the home.
The case took other dramatic turns, apart from the arrest of Mr Geesing, who also lived close to the Bell family. The grieving family were targeted by an extortionist who wanted $30,000 in exchange for the safe return of Louise.
The Louise Bell mystery was one of South Australia’s most enduring cold cases.Source:News Corp Australia
And the neighbour who found the pyjama top on her property — which later proved so crucial — was phoned in by an unknown man asking for medical advice, apparently relating to Louise. The same man is believed to have called police and told them where to find her earrings.
During the trial the judge will visit the home Louise was taken from and also that of Pfennig’s home at the time, which is located a few streets away.
It isn’t the first time the home has come under investigation. It was extensively searched in the past by investigators looking for clues — including in 1991, when the entire backyard was excavated and timber floors in several bedrooms ripped up, reports the Adelaide Advertiser.
A radar penetrated the ground, but nothing was found.
An inquest into Louise’s death was held in 1985 and concluded she had been murdered for “sexual purposes”.
The trial is expected to last several weeks.
Former teacher accused of murdering schoolgirl Louise Bell ‘told an inmate’ he dumped her body in the same place that he buried a boy he was convicted of killing
Dieter Pfennig, 67, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Louise Hall in 1983
Pfennig allegedly told an inmate her body was in the same place as a boy
He is currently serving a life sentence for murdering Michael Black in 1989
Bodies of Adelaide children Louise and Michael have never been recovered
A former teacher accused of murdering schoolgirl Louise Bell told an inmate her body was in the same place he buried a 10-year-old boy he is convicted of killing, a court has heard.
The Supreme Court of South Australia has heard details of a conversation between Dieter Pfennig and an inmate at Mount Gambier prison in which he spoke of both Louise and Michael Black.
Pfennig, 67, was sentenced to life in jail after he abducted and murdered Michael in January 1989, Adelaide Now reports.
The Supreme Court of South Australia has heard details of a conversation between Dieter Pfennig and an inmate at Mount Gambier prison in which he spoke of both Louise Hall and Michael Black
He was arrested at Port Lincoln Prison and is currently facing trial over Louise’s murder in 1983.
Pfennig allegedly spoke of both Michael and Louise at Christmas in 2006 when he was smoking cannabis with another prisoner, prosecutor Sandi McDonald told the court on Wednesday.
Pfennig is accused of murdering Louise Hall after she was abducted from her Adelaide home where she slept with her sister on January 4, 1983
‘Pfennig started to talk about Michael Black, how he had murdered him,’ she said.
‘He said he couldn’t tell anyone where Michael Black was ‘because there is a chick there’.
‘The other prisoner asked ‘what chick?’ and Pfennig replied ‘Bell’.’
Pfennig has pleaded not guilty to murdering Louise after she was abducted from the bedroom of her Adelaide home where she slept with her sister on January 4, 1983.
Her body has never been found.
Michael’s body has also never been recovered after he disappeared while fishing with his dog.
Craig Warman, the first police officer on the scene when Louise was reported missing, told the court on Wednesday he found her bedroom window open and the flyscreen torn from its frame.
‘It (the flyscreen) had been torn from the aluminium frame, all the way across the bottom to about three quarters of the way up,’ he told the South Australian Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Mr Warman, then an officer at Christies Beach, said Louise’s parents were ‘distraught’ when he and his partner arrived at about 6.30am on January 5, 1983.
Louise’s disappearance sparked an extensive search over the following days.
‘When I was on shift the whole staff would be out searching,’ Mr Warman said.
‘My house was actually searched.’
Supreme Court Justice Michael David spent Tuesday visiting several locations central to Louise’s murder case, including the girl’s home where she was last seen by her parents
Louise’s grade five teacher, Priscilla Grace, also gave evidence by video from New York and said the young girl was particularly well-mannered and shy.
‘She was quite unique. She didn’t want to go out and play with other children, she just loved helping me in the classroom,’ Ms Grace said.
THE LOUISE BELL MURDER CASE
The disappearance of 10-year-old Louise Bell in 1983 is one of SA’s most enduring cold cases.
Former maths and science teacher Dieter Pfennig, 67, has pleaded not guilty.
The Crown says it has DNA evidence linking Pfennig to the girl.
The Crown alleges that while Pfennig was in jail for other offences he told fellow inmates he had killed the girl.
The court has heard how a phone call made by a man after Louise went missing led them to find her earrings under a brick near where she went to school.
Louise’s father Colin Bell has told the court how he last saw his daughter after he put her to bed on the night she went missing.
The Supreme Court trial before Justice Michael David is sitting without a jury.
‘If I was out on yard duty she would come out with me and hold my hand and walk around.’
Supreme Court Justice Michael David spent Tuesday visiting several locations central to Louise’s murder case, including the girl’s home where she was last seen by her parents.
Prosecutors allege Pfennin admitted killing the girl to fellow prisoners while in jail for other crimes.
‘The accused then said ‘I did it. I took her’,’ Ms McDonald told the court on Tuesday.
According to Ms McDonald, Pfennig told fellow prisoners the 10-year-old’s death was ‘eating me up’.
DNA evidence from Louise’s pyjama top – which was found in a neighbour’s mailbox shortly after she went missing – would link Pfennig to the crime, Ms McDonald said.
The pyjama top was a ‘one in a billion’ match to Pfennig, she said, adding that the item of clothing had been torn and it appeared that someone had tried to ‘remove it from a child, particularly if her hands were bound’.
Ms McDonald told the court Pfennig had confessed to two inmates, telling one of them that he had been smoking cannabis at the time and Louise’s death had been an accident.
Pfennig – who was married with two daughters at the time of the alleged crime – reportedly said he was not going to tell police where the schoolgirl’s body was located.
‘I’m not going to make it out of prison, why should I should bother?’ Ms McDonald said, quoting what the 67-year-old allegedly told fellow inmates.
Louise’s father Colin Bell gave evidence on Monday, telling the court his daughter had been shy and obedient.
Algea found on Louise’s pajama suggests it was submerged in water, said Ms McDonald (fourth right)
Mr Bell – who was the last person to see Louise – said she loved music and reading, and was wary of strangers.
He said he checked in on Louise and her sister in their bedroom several times throughout the night because they’d been arguing.
‘It was my usual habit to kiss them, but I can’t remember whether I did or not that night,’ Mr Bell told the court.
He said it was his wife who discovered Louise missing the next morning.
Pfennig was charged in 2013 after a comprehensive review of the cold case.
The teacher – who had lived with his family two blocks from the Bell home when Louise disappeared – had his property searched twice during the time he was a suspect.
Police found nothing in either the 1991 or the 2012 searches.
A property which once belonged to Pfennig had floorboards pulled up and part of the back yard excavated in the first search, and during the second, a ground penetrating radar was used to help excavate other areas of the back yard.
The trial is continuing.
Police searched Pfennig’s former home in Adelaide in 2012 but didn’t find any evidence
The team spent two hours at the various key locations associated with Louise Bell’s disappearance
The judge hearing the murder case of 10-year-old Louise Bell has familiarised himself with the house from which she was taken more than 30 years ago.
Supreme Court Justice Michael David, together with the prosecution and defence lawyers and reporters and cameramen, have visited several crucial sites related to the case in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.
Louise was taken on the night of January 4, 1983, from the front bedroom of the yellow brick house in Hackham West.
Dieter Pfennig, 67, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the girl but prosecutors allege he made admissions to fellow prisoners while in jail for other crimes.
After visiting the house on Meadow Way on Tuesday, the group weaved through a series of lanes to another important location less than a kilometre away.
“This was the accused’s house at the time of the abduction of Louise Bell,” prosecutor Sandi McDonald told the group.
The court was also taken to a house where the pyjama top Louise was wearing on the night she disappeared was found neatly folded.
DNA tests recently allegedly linked Pfennig to the top.
Prosecutors say traces of algae on the top show it had been submerged in the Onkaparinga River, where Pfennig regularly went canoeing.
Justice David, who is sitting without a jury, visited the river, which passes through the tall green hills of Old Noarlunga.
His group crossed a rickety wooden suspension bridge and climbed to higher ground to get a better view of the landscape.
Pfennig was not originally a person of interest in the Bell case but was charged in 2013 after a comprehensive review was conducted and DNA samples were tested in Australia and the Netherlands.
The Crown said while Louise’s body has never been found, it is not possible she could still be alive.
The trial of Dieter Pfennig is visiting sites linked to the 1983 murder of an Adelaide schoolgirl. (AAP)
Louise Bell case: Dieter Pfennig to stand trial next week
A former teacher will next week stand trial over the murder of Louise Bell, more than 30 years after the schoolgirl was abducted from the bedroom of her Hackham West home.
Supreme Court Justice Michael David on Monday revoked an order suppressing the identity of the 10-year-old’s alleged killer, Dieter Pfennig, after defence counsel opted for a trial by judge alone.
Prosecutors will allege Pfennig broke into Louise’s bedroom, which she shared with her sister, and abducted her on the night of January 4, 1983.
The alleged abduction was not discovered until early the next morning when Louise’s mother, Diane, realised she was missing.
Torrensville cleaner, Raymond John Geesing, who lived 500m from the Bell’s Meadow Way home at the time of Louise’s abduction, was charged with murder 10 months later.
He was convicted on circumstantial evidence and spent 16 months in jail before his conviction was overturned.
The crime remained one of the state’s most enduring mysteries and a focus of SA Police.
It was not until after a concerted cold case review of the Bell investigation that Major Crime detectives travelled to Port Lincoln and charged Pfennig, now aged 67, with Louise’s murder in November 2013.
Developments in DNA testing led to police arresting and charging Pfennig over Louise’s murder after sending a pyjama top, which was found on a neighbour’s lawn two weeks after her disappearance, to the Netherlands.
The trial will include a view of the Hackham West home Bell was taken from and Pfennig’s then residence a few streets away on Holly Rise.
Police have previously excavated and searched Pfennig’s old home in the hope of finding Louise’s remains.
The property was first searched in 1991, when the entire backyard was excavated and timber floors in several bedrooms ripped up, but nothing was found.
Ground-penetrating radar was later used on the property but did not lead to any discovery.
Pfennig, who is being held in a high security cell at Yatala, showed little emotion during the brief court appearance on Monday.
Prosecutor Sandi McDonald will open the trial on Monday, September 28, and it is expected to run for several weeks.
Man charged over the 1983 murder of South Australian schoolgirl Louise Bell
New forensic evidence led to Major Crime detectives charging a former schoolteacher in the Louise Bell murder case.
The evidence forms the backbone of the case against former schoolteacher Dieter Pfennig, 65, who was today charged with the murder of the 10-year-old schoolgirl.
In a sensational development in the 30-year old mystery, detectives from the Major Crime Investigation Section descended on Port Lincoln.
Pfennig, who has been a suspect in the Bell abduction for two decades, was taken to the Port Lincoln police station after being arrested and formally interviewed.
He was then charged with murder.
In an Adelaide Magistrates Court hearing before Magistrate Jayanthi McGrath, he appeared via videolink from Port Lincoln Magistrates Court and was remanded to next appear in February. He sat emotionless and silent.
The arrest was the culmination of a two-year cold-case review in which many pieces of evidence, including the pyjama top worn by Louise, were sent to the Netherlands by police for advanced DNA testing.
The pyjama top was left on the front lawn of a neighbour’s house two months after Louise was abducted from her bedroom on the night of January 4, 1983.
The DNA testing used new “low-copy” testing techniques that have been successfully used in other jurisdictions, including the US.
The low-copy method of DNA testing is a far more sensitive technique than the method used in Australia.
It can extract a DNA profile from just a few cells of skin or sweat.
The review also led to police excavating the backyard of a Hackham West house that was occupied by Pfennig when Louise was abducted.
It was the second time his house had been searched by officers investigating the case.
Deputy Commissioner Grant Stevens declined to be drawn on the nature of the new evidence against Pfennig, but said police would allege he abducted Louise from her bedroom sometime after 10.30pm on January 4.
They believe he acted alone and no other suspects are being sought.
“She has not been seen since and unfortunately her remains have not been located,” Mr Stevens said.
“This is a significant step forward in the investigation and is evidence once again that police continue to investigate murders, regardless of their age or the difficulty of those investigations.”
Mr Stevens paid tribute to the current investigators and others, many of whom have since retired, who also sought to bring Louise’s killer to justice.
“We have also had significant support from Forensic Science SA, who have been instrumental in helping us to bring this case to a point where we have been able to make an arrest,” he said.
Louise was snatched from the bedroom of her house on Meadow Way during the night of January 4, 1983.
Neighbour Pat Golsby, who has lived in Meadow Way since 1971, welcomed news of the arrest.
“We all had young children at the time, there were a lot of children on the street so it was very distressing,” she said.
“It is something that has needed to be solved for a long time and you just wonder all the time who could do such a thing.
“Our kids used to all play together, it would be nice to know where Louise is for her parents’ sake. Hopefully now they can get closure for the parents. It has taken so long.”
Pfennig has been a suspect in the case for two decades. He lived two streets from the Bell house when Louise was abducted.
The backyard of his house and a shed were first excavated in 1991. The floors of two bedrooms were also dug up as part of the search, which failed to find any evidence.
One of the key exhibits sent overseas for forensic testing was the pyjama top Louise was wearing at the time she was abducted through her bedroom window.
Weeks after taking Louise, her abductor phoned Kathleen Smith – who lived near the Bells – and asked about medical advice for Louise.
He told her where to find Louise’s earrings – under a brick at the Beach Rd-South Rd intersection. Earrings matching Louise’s were discovered.
Five weeks later he left Louise’s pyjama top – neatly folded – on Mrs Smith’s front lawn.
Algae and soil samples found on the pyjama top led police to the estuary area at Noarlunga but no trace of the girl was found.
Deputy Commissioner Stevens said the arrest was the “culmination of the relentless work of all those police involved over the years combined with the dedicated efforts of Forensic Science SA personnel”.
The investigation had involved taking 550 statements as detectives pursued Louise’s murderer.
“Murder investigations never close and police do follow up every line of inquiry in the hope that each case is solved and the justice process completed,” he said.
“Police have had ongoing contact with the Bell family during the past 30 years and continue that contact today.
“Louise’s family remain devastated by her disappearance and remain hopeful that her remains will, one day, be found.
“Police will continue to work hard to meet this expectation. As this case shows it is never too late and police will take action whenever possible.”
Raymond John Geesing, who had lived 500m from the Bell house until two months before her abduction, was initially charged with murdering Louise. Police had spoken to the father-of-four days after the abduction.
He was convicted using circumstantial evidence, but this was later overturned. The court found some grounds of suspicion but that they fell far short of the proof the law required for conviction of a criminal offence.
A key witness, a prisoner, was found to have fabricated his statement implicating Geesing, who successfully sued the government for facial injuries sustained during his 16 months in prison.
School friend hopes mystery of missing Louise Bell will be solved
Kylie Doubikin will never forget the day her school friend Louise Bell was abducted.
“It was school holidays, they had police helicopters landing on the school oval and the police came and interviewed us all,” Mrs Doubikin, of Hackham West, said.
“I grew up in the area and I was friends with Louise, we were in the same class at school.”
Louise was 10 when she was abducted from the bedroom of her family home in Hackham West on January 4, 1983. Her body has never been found.
Mrs Doubikin, 39, said she was sad the high-profile case still remained unsolved but was pleased the investigation had been reopened.
“We were only 10 when it happened and we all just wanted her found,” Mrs Doubikin said.
“She was just a shy, sweet girl.”
Major Crime detectives started a search of a Holly Rise home, Hackham West, for new evidence earlier this week.
It is the second time the home, which was once owned by Dieter Pfennig, has been searched in relation to the case.
Pfennig owned the Holly Rise property from 1977 until 1992.
“I just hope they find her, the family have had to deal with it for a long time,” Mrs Doubikin said.
“I feel for the family that live in the house now too, it’s not nice for them.”
Mrs Doubikin has lived on Holly Rise for 11 years.
“It’s strange to think that of all the streets, I ended up living on this one,” she said.
Mrs Doubikin said her children had been interested in all the activity on the street in recent days.
“My eldest is 13 and she understands what happened and I guess she is worried it could happen to her.
“I think it’s a really good time for us to bring up stranger danger with our kids.”
Search for clues
Several small items were taken from the scene for examination yesterday as police continued their painstaking search of the Holly Rise home.
Their attention was focused on three concrete slabs in the back yard of the property – one of them the floor of a shed and two others in the yard.
Concrete cutters were used to break up the slabs before police used shovels and hand trowels to dig through the dirt underneath.
Late in the afternoon, police focused on a back corner of the property where a slab was removed and a marquee erected over the site.
Sifting pans were used to carefully examine the soil under the slab and some items were placed in bags to be taken from the property for further examination.
A police spokeswoman said that the search was a lengthy process.
“Police are still searching the property and will continue to do so,” she said.
“They have conducted a thorough search and they are examining items from the scene.”
Officers will return to the scene today to continue the search.
In 1991, police pulled up floorboards but excavated only a section of the yard.
Australian Federal Police officers were at the property again yesterday to continue their examination with ground-penetrating radar, which can identify disturbed ground up to a metre deep.
Paedophile murderer linked to property being searched over Louise Bell disappearance
The Adelaide property being searched today by police in connection with the 1983 abduction and murder of schoolgirl Louise Bell was formerly occupied by convicted child murderer Dieter Pfennig.
AdelaideNow has revealed hi-tech ground-penetrating radar equipment is being used to search the backyard of Pfennig’s former house on Holly Rise, Hackham West, in Adelaide’s outer southern suburbs.
There are more than a dozen police officers from the Major Crime and Forensic branches involved in the search.
Louise was 10 when she was abducted from her family’s Hackham West home on January 4, 1983. Her body has not been found.
Known paedophile Raymond John Geesing was convicted of the crime, despite no body being found, but later acquitted on appeal.
Pfennig was jailed for life with a 38-year non-parole period in 1992 for the murder of 10-year-old Murray Bridge schoolboy Michael Black.
Michael was abducted on January 18, 1989, from a reserve near Murray Bridge. Pfennig placed the boy’s belongings upstream to give the impression he had drowned while swimming, but his body was never found.
Pfennig has also admitted abducting and sexually assaulting another boy, 13, in late 1989.
Lands Title Office records show Pfennig owned the Holly Rise property from 1977 until he was taken into custody.
The Louise Bell investigation was re-opened last year because of better DNA technology, police said.
The radar equipment being used at the Hackham West search site has been loaned from the Australian Federal Police, who are assisting in the operation.
Similar equipment was previously used to search a Salisbury North backyard in the infamous “bodies in the barrels” murder investigation.
Police say they could be working at the site for several days.
Major Crime officer in charge Superintendent Grant Moyle said the search had been ordered after police re-examined evidence from the 1983 investigation and subsequent investigations in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“We are searching for any evidence that might relate to Louise Bell or any other offences that might have been committed,” he said.
“It’s a big commitment. We have examined closely the extent of investigations that were conducted in 1983, when Louise Bell went missing.
It is a result of that, that we felt for thoroughness we needed to fully examine the backyard more than they did in 1991.”
In the mid-1990s, Louise’s father, Colin Bell, said his daughter’s disappearance was “completely out of character”.
“She was a fairly timid girl and slightly immature for her age and fairly shy,” he said.
A dedicated Nurse working hard, surely underpaid and suffers the indignity of being killed this way. FOLLOW this story closely. Never let it be undermined by bullshit excuses from the communities of the indigenous communities she dedicated herself too to save one of their own people!
A dedicated Nurse working hard, surely underpaid and suffers the indignity of being killed this way. FOLLOW this story closely. Never let it be undermined by bullshit excuses from the communities of the indigenous communities she dedicated herself too to save one of their own people!
THE man charged with the murder of outback nurse Gayle Woodford is the target of payback threats by other inmates, a court has heard.
Dudley Davey appeared in Port Augusta Magistrates Court today charged with the murder of Mrs Woodford at Fregon in the APY Lands early last Thursday.
Davey, 34, wearing a black T-shirt, stood silently in hand cuffs flanked by two sheriffs officers throughout the hearing.
His duty solicitor urged Magistrate Clive Kitchin to impose a suppression order on Davey’s name and image.
He argued that publication of Davey’s name could lead to him being harmed inside the prison system by Aboriginal inmates who are angered at what he is alleged to have done.
However, prosecutors argued that Davey’s identity was already well known throughout the APY Lands and had been broadcast by some media outlets.
Mr Kitchin said he was not prepared to make such an order, noting that hardship to an accused person was not a basis for suppression.
“This accused is facing potential retribution from prisoners in custody and other members of the community,” Mr Kitchin said.
“The chances of him getting bail on this matter are remote, and the chances that his name will not be known by other inmates inside prison is also remote.”
Prosecutors told the court that the investigation into Mrs Woodford’s murder was well progressed, after forensic experts completed their assessment of the shallow grave where her body was found and surrounding areas.
Davey, of Mimili, also faces a charge of theft for allegedly stealing the ambulance which Mrs Woodford drove.
He was arrested in Coober Pedy on Thursday morning after police used the ambulance’s GPS data to pinpoint its location.
Davey allegedly lured Mrs Woodford from the home she shared with her schoolteacher husband Keith.
It was only after Mrs Woodford failed to appear at work and the ambulance was noted missing that the alarm was raised about 10.30am Thursday.
The court did not hear any details on how Davey allegedly murdered the 56-year-old mother-of-two or how he was able to lure her from her home.
Davey made no application for bail and was remanded in custody to face court in June.
A businessman with alleged mafia links, Antonio ‘Tony’ Madafferi, was suspected by police of putting a $200,000 bounty on the head of Joseph Acquaro after he formed the apparent belief the slain lawyer was leaking information about him to a journalist, the ABC have confirmed.
Police told Tony Madafferi they believed he put contract on lawyer’s life
Mr Madafferi denies any knowledge of the contract
Former client with organised crime links believed Mr Acquaro had not adequately represented him
The affidavits said detectives visited Mr Madafferi at his Noble Park fruit shop and told him they believed he was soliciting a hit on Mr Acquaro, warning him if anything happened to the lawyer, Mr Madafferi would be top of their list of suspects.
Mr Madafferi vehemently denied the allegation.
The ABC does not suggest Mr Madafferi is involved with Mr Acquaro’s death.
Police also warned Mr Acquaro of the alleged contract, and advised him to beef up his personal security, which he apparently declined to do.
Mr Acquaro represented Mr Madafferi’s brother, Frank, an alleged mafia heavyweight who was jailed with a number of other men linked to the Calabrian mafia in 2014 over the world’s largest ecstasy bust.
He also represented at least one of Frank Madafferi’s co-accused in that case.
It is believed Mr Acquaro fell out with the Madafferi brothers over business dealings, and over the belief Mr Acquaro’s adult sons were becoming close to the Madafferi brothers, which their father did not want.
Tony Madafferi formed the view Mr Acquaro was providing information to McKenzie, and as part of a still-running defamation suit against Fairfax, tried unsuccessfully to force McKenzie to reveal his sources.
McKenzie said in an affidavit he had been warned by police Tony Madafferi was trying to place him under surveillance, and that he was deeply fearful of what could happen to his sources if their names were revealed.
In reply, Tony Madafferi’s lawyer, Georgina Schoff, said it was “absolutely fanciful” somebody would try to “knock off” one of McKenzie’s sources.
Acquaro’s former client ‘furious’ over trial result
In a separate potential lead for police, Mr Acquaro had made an enemy of a former client with organised crime links who believed Mr Acquaro had not adequately represented him at a major criminal trial.
The ABC understands the man, who has strong ties to the Calabrian mafia in Australia, is canvassing legal avenues to appeal against his heavy sentence, but is believed to have been furious with Mr Acquaro over the result of his trial.
The falling out between Mr Acquaro and his client illustrates the difficulty for police in finding the killer of a man who had apparently made many enemies.
Melbourne businessman and gangland criminal lawyer Joseph ‘Pino’ Acquaro has been shot dead in a targeted attack in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick East, Victoria Police homicide squad detectives say.
Acquaro’s body was found at 3:00am on St Phillip Street by a garbage truck driver
A car was heard driving at speed away from scene
Acquaro represented a number of Melbourne gangland figures
Mr Acquaro, 54, was found at 3:00am by a garbage truck driver, on St Phillip Street, just a few hundred metres from a popular cafe strip in the inner-city Melbourne suburb.
He was a prominent criminal lawyer who has represented several Melbourne gangland crime figures.
He was also a past president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and was involved in the Brunswick Reggio Calabria Club.
Mr Acquaro was a director of the popular ice-cream and Italian cake shop, Gelobar, around the corner from where his body was found.
Detective Inspector Mick Hughes said Mr Acquaro was shot while walking to his car after shutting his business about 12:40am.
“A witness has heard a car travelling down that street away from Lygon [Street] at a reasonably high speed,” he said.
“If anyone has seen cars in the area prior to the shooting [and] just after the shooting, please contact Crime Stoppers.
Detective Inspector Hughes believed it was a targeted attack.
“It’s always a concern when someone meets their death in a public place,” he said.
“From a safety perspective, it does appear to be targeted and as our investigation unfolds today, and over the next few days we’ll probably know more about that.
“But certainly at this stage it certainly looks as if it’s a targeted attack.
“The other possibility we’ll certainly look at is robbery.”
Detective Inspector Hughes said Mr Acquaro was known to police “through other associations”, not because he had been convicted of any crime.
“There was a previous incident here that police were aware of,” Detective Inspector Hughes said.
“From what I’ve been told, it appears that was a very minor incident that wouldn’t result in something as tragic as this.”
A woman who is understood to run the shop arrived at the scene and was visibly distressed.
SES workers conducted a line search in the area where the body was found.
Mafia lawyer and gelati bar owner Joseph ‘Pino’ Acquaro gunned down on Brunswick East street
March 15, 2016 – 11:59AM
A Melbourne cafe owner’s body is found in a Burnswick East laneway, in what is believed to be a professional hit. (Vision courtesy Seven news Melbourne)
A Melbourne criminal lawyer allegedly wanted dead by the mafia has been gunned down in Melbourne’s inner north in what is believed to be a professional hit.
The murdered man, Pino “Joseph” Acquaro, had been warned by police that his life was in danger and told that he should take measures to protect his safety. Mr Acquaro refused.
The 54-year-old criminal lawyer, who represented several prominent Melbourne gangland and Calabrian crime figures, was gunned down while walking to his black Mercedes parked in St Phillip Street, Brunswick East.
Forensics officers examine the man’s body on St Phillip Street. Photo: Eddie Jim
It appears he had just locked up for the night at his gelateria and cafe Gelobar in Lygon Street when he was shot by a single gunman just after 12.40am.
Witnesses heard shots and the sound of a car travelling along St Phillip Street away from Lygon Street – the wrong way up a one-way street.
A rubbish truck driver found Mr Acquaro’s body at 3am and phoned emergency services. He was already dead when paramedics arrived.
Police and SES volunteers at the scene. Photo: Eddie Jim.
Homicide Squad detectives and forensic police have been on the scene all Tuesday morning. Police found a mobile phone under a car in St Phillip Street not far from the body just after 11am.
Detective Inspector Mick Hughes confirmed the victim, who he would not name, had died from gunshot wounds.
He would not comment on how many times Mr Acquaro was shot, nor what type of weapon was used.
Detective Inspector Hughes said that fire was over a “minor dispute” and though there was no clear link to the murder, it would be investigated.
He would also not rule-out that robbery was a motive.
Police block St Phillip Street in Brunsick East after a man’s body was discovered. Photo: 3AW
Mr Acquaro, a father of three adult sons, had severed ties with many of his former Calabrian mafia clients after a falling out.
He was the past president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and, given his Calabrian heritage, was a passionate advocate of his culture and business in Melbourne.
He was strongly involved with Brunswick’s Reggio Calabria club.
He was known in the Calabrian community as a lawyer and businessman who would help disadvantaged community members with their affairs, continuing a tradition started by his father, a Melbourne accountant.
But Mr Acquaro also facilitated the business affairs of notorious Calabrian community members, reputed to be in the ‘Ndrangheta or Honoured Society.
Detective Inspector Hughes said the dead man was known to police but had no convictions.
George Mirabella, owner of Mirabella Lighting nearby, said he had known Mr Acquaro his whole life, from attending Italian social functions together in Melbourne as children.
He said he was a generous, well-loved member of society who was a “total gentleman”.
“He was so down-to-earth, everyone loved him, I’ve got my whole staff in tears,” Mr Mirabella said.
The last time he saw Mr Acquaro was when he came into his store and bought two globes.
“And he bought in some cannoli. That’s the type of gentleman he was. I can’t believe it.”
Mr Acquaro started operating Gelobar about five years ago, when Salvatore Scullino, who owned the business with his wife Rita, died.
Ms Scullino had been inconsolable outside the business on Tuesday morning, and did not speak to the media.
Her employees gathered on the corner opposite Gelobar, stunned by the death of their boss, as other mourners arrived in shock.
Several stacks of chairs and three tables remained on the footpath outside the gelataria on Tuesday morning, as though the cafe was not completely packed up before closing.
The street was reopened about 12.50pm.
Police are now assessing CCTV footage from a camera mounted outside Gelobar, which points directly at the intersection of Lygon and St Phillip Street, but not as far as where the shooting is likely to have occurred.
The camera view of the intersection appears to be partially obscured by two outdoor umbrellas, but detectives are hopeful it will show the car used by the hit man.
A witness said they heard a car driving the wrong way up St Phillip Street about 12.40am, but did not see the car.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Bail denied for Chantelle Strnad who is charged with murder after Ingleburn, Sydney, shooting
May 11, 2016
Chantelle Strnad is taken away by police from her western Sydney business that was the scene of a siege in March Warren BarnsleyAAP
A SYDNEY woman charged with the shooting murder of a man during a business dispute at a Sydney factory has been refused bail.
An emotional Chantelle Strnad, 31, appeared in Campbelltown Local Court on Wednesday charged with the murder of her client, 44-year-old Michael Bassal, who was shot dead at an Ingleburn sign factory in March.
Strnad, who was already on bail having earlier been charged with concealing a serious indictable offence in relation to the matter, was arrested on Tuesday.
She also faces a charge of being an accessory after the fact to murder.
Mr Bassal was shot dead during a six-hour siege at the western Sydney factory, of which Strnad is the owner and operator, in what police believe was a business dispute.
His brothers Terry and Mark were with him at the time and were wounded.
The court heard the gunman, 33-year-old Inline Signs employee and Strnad’s former partner Wayne Williams, turned his assault rifle on himself at the end of the siege.
Prosecution lawyer Clint Nasr told the court on Wednesday that Strnad lured the victims to the premises.
Police at the Ingleburn siege. Picture: Channel 9 NewsSource:Channel 9
Strnad allegedly told Williams to “come and sort these guys out. I am going to f***ing kill them”, Mr Nasr said.
Mr Nasr said that was “clear evidence of her intention”.
He also said she was aware the rifle used in the crime was in Williams’ possession and was “loaded and ready to go”.
Strnad will remain in custody after Magistrate Robert Rabbidge agreed with the prosecution about the seriousness of the alleged offences.
Ingleburn shooting victim Michael Bassal. Picture: Facebook Source: Facebook
Mr Rabbidge said Strnad was “hell-bent” on undertaking the alleged “criminal enterprise”.
“We have one dead and two who almost died,” Mr Rabbidge said. The court also heard Strnad collected the rounds from the rifle after the shooting.
Strnad’s defence lawyer, Karen Watson, argued her client should be granted bail because she had not broken her previous bail conditions and her business had suffered considerably due to the March incident.
She also said the case against her client was weak.
But Mr Nasr warned a number of prosecution witnesses were her employees at the sign factory.
A CRAZED gunman who shot three brothers and held three bystanders hostage for six hours killed himself last night in the bloody final act of a feud believed to be over a sign.
Wayne Williams had opened fire on the Bassal brothers at 10.45am at Ingleburn’s Inline National Signage and Property Services after police believe they went to the business to complain about a sign they had ordered.
Father-of-one Michael “Mick” Bassal — who was friends online with Rebels bikies president Alex Vella — died on the grass verge outside the business. His two brothers were taken to Liverpool hospital, where one required emergency surgery.
Police today charged a man and woman who were led from the building by police at the height of the siege.
The 52-year-old man, reported to be Williams’ father Peter, was charged with discharge firearm in a public place and conceal serious indictable offence.
He has been refused bail to appear at Campbelltown Local Court today.
Inline’s distraught owner, 30-year-old Chantelle Tonna was charged with conceal serious indictable offence. She’s has been granted strict conditional bail and is due to appear in the same court next month.
Tonna was so traumatised she could barely walk as police helped her from the warehouse, where three bystanders were taken hostage.
Police believe she knew Williams, who had connections with the Finks bikies gang and who could be heard yelling at police negotiators for hours.
Detectives were last night piecing together the dispute that led to Williams opening fire with a high-powered rifle but one line of inquiry was that the brothers were unhappy with sign work.
During the siege heavily armed police armed with assault rifles surrounded the business and evacuated nearby premises.
At one point Detective Inspector Mark Brett said that the situation had reached a “delicate stage”.
The three terrified hostages were freed from their hiding places just after 5pm by police in “bear cat” armoured truck and reunited with anxious family members waiting in a nearby street. The men were checked by paramedics before they were taken to Macquarie Fields police station to be interviewed about their ordeal.
Williams was found inside the property and was believed to have shot himself.
One worker told of his terror as he ushered his wife, who came to visit him at work, into an outside toilet as a volley of shots rang out. Machine operator Gurjinder Girn, who has worked at the Heald Rd site for five years, and his wife Navjot Kaur heard a man shouting, “Come out, come out, come out”.
They then heard six shots.
“Nothing like this has happened in front of my eyes with me or this company. It was very terrifying,” Mr Girn said.
“By chance we went outside to go to the bathroom.
“I know there were three other employees inside who were hiding from the gunman.”
The couple heard police arrive about 10 minutes after the shooting and they were soon escorted to safety.
Mark Callaghan, owner of nearby A & A Equipment in Shaw Rd, said he heard a commotion at the time. “I heard a woman hysterically screaming down the road. It was a muffled scream and I couldn’t understand the words,” he said.
Family and friends of Mr Bassal gathered at Liverpool Hospital last night to support his two injured brothers.
One of the men was critically injured while the other had superficial wounds.
AS IT HAPPENED
10.45am: Triple-0 emergency call reports three people shot at Inline National Signage and Property Services at the corner of Heald and Stennett Rds, Ingleburn. Neighbours report hearing up to five shots. Police find three people with gunshot wounds. One man dies at the scene. Two men are taken to Liverpool Hospital, one suffering superficial wounds and another with gunshot wounds to the lower part of the body. Police surround the printing company.
11-11.30am: Police set up a 1km exclusion zone and nearby companies are told to close their doors. Some go into lockdown while others evacuate.
11.25am: Police issue a warning to the public to avoid the area.
11:55am: Heavily armed tactical police can be seen with guns drawn at the door of the printing firm.
12.05pm: The $400,000 police “Bear Cat” armoured truck arrives at the rear of the premises.
12.25pm: Police confirm three people have been shot and one man is dead.
2pm: A man is arrested for “hindering police” near the scene.
2.30pm: Macquarie Fields crime manager Detective Inspector Mark Brett confirms the dead victim was 43 years old.
5pm: Armed tactical response police storm the building and free three hostages, who are taken to safety and attended to by paramedics. The gunman, 33, is found dead at the scene.
HOSTAGE WAS ON FIRST DAY OF HIS JOB
ONE of the three workers held hostage in yesterday’s deadly Ingleburn siege has revealed he was on the first day of his new job.
Seksane had only been at Inline Signage for a few hours when gunman Wayne Williams opened fire, killing Mick Bassal and wounding two of his brothers.
He was trapped in the building after armed police arrived to begin a lengthy standoff with Williams.
“I don’t know – I (was) still working,” he said, adding he was “pretty much okay”.
“That’s the first start to the job, today.”
Ingleburn shooting: Shooter’s father charged after siege in Sydney’s south-west