SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 31: Lucky Gattelari is escorted to a police car under special security at King Street court on January 31, 2017 in Sydney, . (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Fairfax Media) Photo: Daniel Munoz
“Lucky Gattellari is never going to be awarded n of the Year,” said the Crown prosecutor in the murder trial of wealthy property developer Ron Medich.
“But who do you go to if you want to arrange a murder and an intimidation?” posed Gina O’Rourke, SC, to the jury. “If you are the accused, ladies and gentlemen, you go to Lucky Gattellari. That is exactly what he did.”
Mr Medich has pleaded not guilty to the 2009 murder of Michael McGurk and the subsequent intimidation of his widow Kimberley.
Gattellari, the Crown’s key witness, received a discount on his sentence in return for giving evidence against his former close friend. Gattellari has told the jury that Mr Medich paid him $500,000 to organise the murder and intimidation because Mr McGurk and Mr Medich were embroiled in a number of legal disputes which Mr Medich wanted to end.
Ms O’Rourke said the reason Mr Medich approached Gattellari to do the murder was because Mr Medich trusted Gattellari “implicitly” and that he knew Gattellari “was a man prepared to do things that Joe Citizen would not be prepared to do.”
She said that, on Mr Medich’s behalf, Gattellari had been prepared to break into Mr Medich’s brother Roy’s house, follow Mr Medich’s then wife Odetta and chase up debts owed to his friend and benefactor.
The jury heard that Gattellari was financially beholden to Mr Medich and that, in the two years prior to Gattellari’s arrest in October 2010, Mr Medich poured more than $16 million, without any form of security, into Gattellari’s failing electrical businesses.
After six weeks of evidence in the trial, Ms O’Rourke began her closing address to the jury on Friday. But in a dramatic development before she commenced her address, a juror was discharged.
For legal reasons, it cannot be disclosed why this occurred.
After an hour and half’s delay, the remaining jurors were told by Justice Geoff Bellew that “it won’t have escaped your attention” that one of their members had been discharged.
The judge warned the remaining jurors that they were not to speculate about the reasons behind the discharge of the juror.
They were also warned that they were not to have any contact with that person until the trial had concluded.
The trial, which started at the end of January, commenced with 15 jurors. After four days, one juror was discharged and now, at the end of the trial, another juror has gone.
It is customary in lengthy trials to start with a larger jury in case of illness or misadventure.
Once the judge has completed his summing up, which is due to happen next week, there will be a ballot to see which of the remaining jurors will make up the final panel of 12.
At the end of the day Justice Bellew reminded jurors that it was a criminal offence to discuss the evidence outside the confines of the jury room and that they should not make their own inquiries about the evidence.