21 May 2024

Alleged cold case murderer claims his human rights were breached at Canberra's prison

| Albert McKnight
man being arrested, and woman in orange top

Steve Fabriczy was arrested by police in Melbourne (left) and then charged with the murder of Irma Palasics. Photos: ACT Policing, Supplied.

One of the men who allegedly murdered grandmother Irma Palasics over two decades ago has alleged his human rights have been breached while being held in Canberra’s prison on remand while awaiting trial.

However, while 69-year-old Steve Fabriczy’s lawyers claim he has been held alongside sentenced prisoners in a breach of the law, he has been warned that if he is moved to another part of the prison, then he may be held “somewhere worse”.

He and Joseph Vekony are accused of forcing their way into Irma and Gregor Palasics’ home in McKellar on 6 November 1999 before the elderly couple were tied up and assaulted.

The two accused allegedly stole $30,000 cash and fled. Mr Palasics eventually freed himself from his bindings and discovered his 72-year-old wife dead in the hallway.

Police allege a complex undercover operation ultimately led to the apprehension of Mr Fabriczy.

He and Mr Vekony were both arrested in Melbourne in 2023 and charged with murder, to which they have pleaded not guilty and have been committed for trial.

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On Tuesday (21 May), the ACT Supreme Court heard Mr Fabriczy wanted to make a bail application, partly as he would claim he was housed at the Alexander Maconochie Centre in breach of the Human Rights Act as he was allegedly held alongside sentenced prisoners.

Detainees in custody on remand are not allowed to be housed with prisoners serving a sentence except in exceptional circumstances.

Prosecutor Trent Hickey told the court that it did appear Mr Fabriczy had been “mixed in with sentenced prisoners”.

Joseph Vekony

Joseph Vekony was extradited to the ACT over the death of Irma Palasics. Photo: ACT Policing.

Chief Justice Lucy McCallum said if so, the alleged breach of the legislation was “obviously concerning”. However, she also said the section where he is being held, in a cottage, could be the best part of the jail, and if he wanted to be separated from the sentenced prisoners, then he might end up “somewhere worse”.

Defence barrister Jack Pappas said during the bail application, he would also argue there had already been a delay in the case and it was expected there would be a further delay.

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In addition, he said there had been difficulties in obtaining instructions from his client while he was in custody and it had become “impossible” to confer with him recently.

Mr Pappas said if the prosecution was concerned about his client’s risk of flight, this could be addressed by onerous bail conditions, including him wearing an electronic bracelet tracking system that he would pay for himself.

Chief Justice McCallum said the law meant she could not proceed without notice being given to the Attorney-General and Human Rights Commission, seeing as the human rights allegations had been made.

She adjourned the bail application to 28 May. Both Mr Fabriczy and 68-year-old Mr Vekony have been remanded in custody.

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