Lucky Gattellari admits role in Michael McGurk murder
“It’s taken long enough” were the words accused murderer and property tycoon Ron Medich allegedly said when he learned of the death of Sydney businessman Michael McGurk.
“IT’S taken long enough” were the words accused murderer and property tycoon Ron Medich allegedly said when he learned of the death of Sydney businessman Michael McGurk.
The allegation is contained in an agreed statement of facts tendered in Central Local Court on Tuesday after one of Medich’s co-accused, former boxing champion Lucky Gattellari, pleaded guilty to his role in the murder.
Gattellari, who police say assisted them in their investigation within days of his arrest in October 2010, has pleaded guilty to being an accessory before the fact of Mr McGurk’s murder in September 2009.
The charge, which attracts a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, came after plea negotiations with crown prosecutors.
Gattellari, 60, was previously charged with soliciting Mr McGurk’s murder and being an accessory after the fact – both of which carry 20-year maximum jail terms.
Mr McGurk was killed on 3 September, 2009, by a single gunshot to the head outside his home at Cremorne on Sydney’s lower north shore.
Three other men – Senad Kaminic, Christopher Estephan and Haissam Safetli – have also been charged over the murder.
According to the tendered statement, the relationship between Medich and Mr McGurk became “acrimonious” in 2008 after they became embroiled in business and legal disputes.
Police allege Mr McGurk recorded a conversation with Medich in February 2009 which he maintained “would grossly implicate the government in corrupt deals with Medich over the proposed development at Badgerys Creek”, the statement said.
“Medich was very embarrassed as to how he was being treated by (Mr McGurk),” it said.
“He believed (Mr McGurk) had made him a laughing stock of the eastern suburbs, a fool in front of his wife and he was continually costing Medich a considerable amount of money.”
About March 2009, Medich spoke with Gattellari, a close business associate and debt collector.
“I need to put an end to this. I need some help from you. I need you to find someone to kill him for me,” Medich allegedly said.
Medich also allegedly told Gattellari that as soon as Mr McGurk was killed, “he wanted pressure applied to the deceased’s wife, Kimberley McGurk, to intimidate her into resolving her husband’s legal disputes with him”, the statement of facts says.
Gattellari and Kaminic then allegedly approached Safetli to carry out the murder, and Safetli in turn allegedly recruited Estephan.
Police allege Safetli wanted $500,000 for the murder and intimidation but Medich allegedly handed over $250,000.
As time passed, police allege “Medich’s frustrations increased at the time it was taking for the deceased to be killed”.
While Medich was in China on a business trip in May 2009, Gattellari allegedly suggested “this would be the time”, and Mr McGurk’s Jindabyne holiday in July of that year was also allegedly considered for the murder.
On the day of the shooting, Gattellari, Kaminic and Medich had lunch in the city before heading to a massage parlour, the statement of facts says.
“Medich wanted a heads-up before the murder so he could ensure he was in a public place at the time,” police allege.
Meanwhile, Safetli and Estephan allegedly parked near Mr McGurk’s house, smoked marijuana and drank whiskey.
When Mr McGurk arrived home, police allege he was shot in the head at close range by “either Safetli or Estephan”.
Asked by Gattellari the next day if he was happy the killing had been carried out, Medich allegedly replied, “It’s taken long enough.”
Medich, who is on $500,000 bail, is scheduled to next appear before the court on 24 August.
Gattellari’s case was adjourned to the NSW Supreme Court on 7 September. – AAP