Michael McGurk, who was allegedly murdered by property developer Ron Medich. Photo: Supplied Ron Medich arrives for day two of his murder trial. Photo: Peter Rae
The Crown’s principal witness against accused murder mastermind Ron Medich was recently charged with attempting to extort “many, many millions of dollars” from the property developer.
Mr Medich’s barrister Winston Terracini, SC, told a Supreme Court jury that this was the second time Fortunato “Lucky” Gattellari had tried to get money from Mr Medich, the first occasion being shortly after Gattellari’s arrest in October 2010.
Gattellari is serving a jail term for his role in the murder of Michael McGurk.
The 45-year-old wheeler-dealer was shot outside his Cremorne home in September 2009.
Mr Terracini said the defence case would be that Mr Medich, a 68-year-old property developer, had no involvement in the murder of his former business partner, Michael McGurk.
“The accused’s case will centre around criticism of the reliability and the honesty and, in some cases, the deliberate attempt to mislead you by the witnesses Gattellari and (Senad) Kaminic,” he said.
Mr Medich’s position, said Mr Terracini, was that he had never attempted to influence anyone to give wrong evidence and that he had never wanted Mr McGurk dead or his widow harmed.
The Crown alleges Mr Medich paid $500,000 to his then close associate Gattellari to organise the murder of McGurk, with whom Mr Medich had fallen out, and to later intimidate his wife Kimberley.
Haissam Safetli, an associate of Gattellari’s, pleaded guilty to both murder and intimidation.
When Mrs McGurk failed to settle the legal cases in which her husband and Mr Medich had been embroiled, Mr Medich is alleged to have instructed Gattellari to find someone to intimidate her.
The jury heard Mr Medich said of Mrs McGurk: “The bitch must’ve been part of this from the start. She is as tough as he was.”
Safetli was paid $100,000 to intimidate Mrs McGurk. He subcontracted the matter to an associate who happened to be a police informant.
On 8 August, 2010, with police watching, the subcontractor went to Mrs McGurk’s house to threaten her.
The first police officer to arrive at the murder scene told the court that McGurk was lying on his back, surrounded by hot chips.
Senior Constable Rebecca Pope said blood had pooled around his head due to a gunshot wound on the right sight of his head.
The jury heard that Mrs McGurk and several others had been trying, unsuccessfully to resuscitate McGurk.
According to the subsequent autopsy report, McGurk suffered lethal brain damage caused by a .22 calibre bullet.
The trial continues.