Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The Parkside Body in the Freezer Case:Gino "Luigi" Gambardella (part 3)

The Parkside Body in the Freezer Case:

 Gino "Luigi" Gambardella 


Gino “Luigi” Gambardella was a well-known, chiropractor who ran his practice from a business premises on Prospect Road, Prospect in the 1970’s.
 “Luigi” as he was known, was very well known in Adelaide’s 70’s gay sex scene, often seen frequenting Adelaide’s gay strips looking for young men.

Gambardella was a close friend of Derrance Stevenson, and Bevan Spencer Von Einem, and connected with a number of Von Eminem’s associates.

Downtown - Hindley Street, Adelaide
One of the places Gambardella would pick up
young men for his clients
Gambardella was present at the house of Derrance Stevenson on the night of his murder, his distinctive green and white Ford Falcon as seen parked in the driveway of the distinctive house in Parkside.
 David Szach’s, who convicted for the murder of Stevenson, also speculated that Gambardella was the person behind a number of threatening phone calls that were received at Stevenson’s house after Stevenson had decided to try and leave a secret group of men involved in drugging and filming young men in the late 1970’s.

Gambardella was charged in 1979 as an accessory to murder in the Stevenson case, but his charges were later dropped. It was during the case that it was revealed that Gambardella was known scout for the secretive group, frequenting Adelaide’s gay hotspots, during his lunch breaks, and after work, recruiting young men for sex with a client list of Adelaide’s wealthy and elite.
Gambardella fled South Australia after his brush with the law in 1980. It is believed he went into hiding in Italy. It was during an inquest into “The Family” murders, surrounding the case of Bevan Spencer Von Einem, that Gambardella’s identity and paedophilic past was presented into the public arena.

Gambardella was known to police, he had had several young men place reports against him in the 1970’s, but the reports were ignored by police. A young man reported that Gambardella had picked him up in 1997. Gambardella had first taken him to Stevenson’s Parkside home, only to find the lawyer not home, so he drove the young man to his Prospect business premises.
Once inside, he showed the young man an amateur pornographic movie and then sexually assaulted him.

Gambardella was also known to be a drug dealer, and it is thought this is how he lured young men into his seedy world. It is alleged, that once the men were high, Gambardella could do whatever he wanted, and often he would film them for his network, sometimes he would take photos of the young boys with objects firmly pushed into their backsides – nothing was out of the question for
Gambardella’s depraved network of buyers.

Gambardella was also known for picking up hitchhikers and sexually assaulting them. It was alleged during the “Family Murders” investigation, that Gambardella would take the hitchhikers up to Stevenson’s home and the two men would sexually assault them together.
 It was Gambardella who introduced the 16-year-old Szach’s to Stevenson, Gambardella had promised the teenager a successful career in modelling, and had insisted on photographing him.

It has also been alleged that Gambardella would place fake job ads in local newspapers for a part time gardening position. Young men would apply, and Gambardella would interview them. Often his questioning would lead toward risqué topics, to measure the boy’s response, and it is alleged he would then single out the ones who weren’t suspicious or reacted in certain ways for future sexual assaults.  

Gambardella’s location is currently unknown, but Police have dropped any charges they had against
Veale Gardens - South Adelaide Parklands
A notorious gay sex hangout in the 1970's, in walking distance
to Derrance Stevensons 'house in Parkside
(source SBS)
the man in the hope he may come forward and offer names or evidence against others involved in the Family murders.

Another interesting character associated with Gambardella and Stevenson is former High Court Judge, Lionel Murphy. It is alleged that the former Judge was present on the night of Stevenson’s death. 

This claim first surfaced in 1991, when the Legal Services Commission contacted David Szach’s and stated that someone had come forward with information about the visit. A taxi driver is alleged to have dropped Mr Murphy and two other men off at the house in Parkside on the night of the murder.

 Lionel Murphy died in 1986, after a long career which saw him serve as the attorney-general in the Whitlam Government. His long career ended in controversy when he charged with trying to pervert the course of Justice in 1985, and jailed. His conviction was swiftly over-turned and Judge Murphy returned as a working Judge, this led Bob Hawke to invoke an inquiry into the matter.

The case was reported in The Australian (newspaper) in December 2016 as “one of the greatest judicial scandals since federation was left with no conclusion, the commission being abandoned when it was revealed Murphy had been diagnosed with cancer and had only months to live” by reporter Kylar Loussikian.

Murphy died in 1986 after a brief fight against cancer.

If High Court Judge Lionel Murphy was at the Stevenson house in 1979, what was he doing there?
Who were the other men he was with?

The only person who might be able to answer that question in Gambardella, and no one is certain where he is, or if he is even still alive! 

Next Week: The Parkside Body in the Freezer Case: Incompetent Coroner? (part 4)

(Bibliography in the final blog post of this series)

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Parkside Body in the Freezer Case: Innocence (part 2)

The Parkside Body in the Freezer Case: Innocence (part 2)

David Szach’s was sent to jail at the age of 19, for the murder of his 44-year-old  lover, flamboyant lawyer, Derrance Stevenson, in 1979.
Szach’s has always maintained his innocence in the case, launching numerous appeals to clear his name, and even appearing on channel seven current affairs program, Today Tonight, undertaking a polygraph test (https://www.todaytonightadelaide.com.au/stories/szach-polygraph). (you can read a transcript of the interview here: http://netk.net.au/Media/2007-03-12TTSzach.asp

David Szach - circa 1980 - source Today Tonight
It is claimed that Mr Derrance Redford Stevenson was killed on the night of Monday June 4th 1979. A concerned friend had visited his home at 189 Greenhill Rd, Parkside after Mr Stevenson failed to appear at an important trail at the courthouse on Tuesday morning. Police searched the building, fearing Mr Stevenson had been robbed for the large amounts of cash his friends claimed he kept on the premises, it was during this time the freezer was found glued shut, and once opened, Mr Stevenson’s body found.
 Mr Stevenson, was last seen alive about 4.25pm on June 4 by his relieving secretary, Mrs Flaherty.

 The coroner arrived at 6pm Tuesday night to begin examinations of Mr Stevenson’s body, which had spent the night in a sealed freezer. He estimated the time of death, which corresponded to a time that Mr Szach’s would have been present in the home (more about this next week), further pointing the finger towards Mr Szach’s.

Szach had allegedly cancelled a bus ticket to Coober Pedy on Monday the 4th. He often went to the town to mine opal. It is claimed that Szach’s took Mr Stevenson’s distinct red 240z Datsun, and drove to his parents’ house, then drove it to Coober Pedy. What is significant about this, is that it is claimed that Stevenson was very particular about who drove his car and where it went. It is claimed he would never have let his 19-year-old lover drive the car.
 To further implicate Szach’s a witness claimed he saw a man leaving Stevenson’s home after 11pm carrying a green garbage bag and an attaché case. The attaché case (or one very similar to it) was found inside Stevenson’s red Datsun in Coober Pedy…

David Szach’s pleaded not guilty in court, but was sentenced (via jury) to life in jail. He appealed and was re-tried in 1980, only to lose again.
Szach’s refused to apply for parole, as he believed he was innocent, and applying for parole against his sentence, would give recognition that he had committed the crime.
 South Australian laws were changed to enable the Chair of the Parole Board to apply for a non-parole period on the behalf of a prisoner because of the Szach’s stance.
Szach’s was released in 1994

So, did David Szach’s kill his older lover? Dr Bob Moles of the Miscarriages of Justice Project at Flinders’ University doesn’t believe so, and has campaigned against the conviction of Mr Szach’s and Governments further refusal to allows Szach’s to appeal against his conviction.
Dr Moles publicly stated that Szach’s couldn’t have killed Stevenson in an interview with ABC news reporters, Damien Carrick and Jeremy Story Carter, where he stated;

"You'd have to attribute to David Szach a number of skills,"
"He'd have the skills of a hired assassin. He'd have to have the skills of a highly skilled rally driver. He'd have to have the skills of a person who could impersonate somebody else and he'd also have to have a great capacity to come across as innocent and naïve when he's been questioned by the police."

There is further evidence either overlooked or “pushed aside” by prosecutors. On the night of Stevenson’s death, two cars were seen sitting in the driveway at his house. One for the green and white ford belonging to Gino Gambardella, and the other unknown (with the witness suggesting it could be the red Datsun that belonged to Stevenson). These cars were witnessed at about 11pm on the night of the murder.

A taxi also picked up a young man, wearing a suit, who was carrying a garbage bag and an attaché case, and drove him into the City. The young man, when he exited the taxi, forget his belongings, and was called back by the taxi driver to take them with him.
The taxi driver described the young man as being around 19 years old with blond shoulder length hair, wearing glasses and of a sallow complexion. He (The taxi driver) did not believe this man to be Szach’s.

A mysterious young man who showed up on the steps of the South Australian Legal Aid Commission the morning after Stevenson’s murder wanting to report a crime. When asked by a legal secretary if he had seen a lawyer, the man replied: "Only Derrance Stevenson, but when I left him last night he was in no condition to act for anyone."
David Szach - circa 2012 - source ABC News

 This young man was never heard of again, and no-one tried to follow up on his request. Who was he? Was he the young man in the suit?

Szach’s also claimed that Stevenson’s had been receiving threatening phone calls, and after one phone call, had told him to take the Datsun and leave town for a while. Szach’s followed his partner’s advice, spending a day with his mother, and returning home that night, to find Stevenson not home, so he took the car and drove overnight to Coober Pedy. Szach’s never once deterred from this story.

At the time of the trial, it was illegal to be homosexual in Adelaide. The prosecution sensationalised the case in the media by focussing as much attention on the two men’s sex lives as they could, taking the spotlight away from facts, witness testimony and other unanswered questions about the case at the time.
There are many intriguing unanswered questions with this case, including a scandal around the then Coroner. There is also the question of who is Gino Gambardella and what was he doing at Stevenson’s house on the night of the murder?

I will be looking at both these men in coming blogs.

Do you believe David Szach’s is guilty or innocent of the murder of Derrance Stevenson? Tell us over on our facebook page; The Haunts of Adelaide (https://www.facebook.com/TheHauntsOfAdelaide/?fref=ts)

Next Week: The Parkside Body in the Freezer Case: Gino "Luigi" Gambardella (part 3)
(Bibliography in the final blog post of this series)