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)