25 January 2024

Irma Palasics' alleged killers now both charged with armed robbery, burglary

| Albert McKnight
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irma palasics joseph vekony steve fabriczy

Irma Palasics (middle) was allegedly murdered in 1999 by Joseph Vekony (left) and Steve Fabriczy (right). Photos: ACT Policing/Supplied.

One of the two alleged murderers of 73-year-old grandmother Irma Palasics has been handed new charges including armed robbery, while both of their matters have been adjourned for more than a month due to the “complicated investigation”.

The two 68-year-old Melbourne men, Steve Fabriczy from Rowville and Joseph Vekony from Endeavour Hills, were arrested several months apart last year in major breakthroughs in the decades-long cold case.

In both 1997 and 1998, Ms Palasics and her husband Gregor were victims of burglaries when they lived in Red Hill.

Then on 6 November 1999, two masked intruders forced their way into their home in Mackellar and violently assaulted them, demanding the location of money and valuables hidden in the house.

When the couple was not forthcoming, they were bound with cable ties, duct tape and a telephone cord, and their house was ransacked.

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Mr Palasics, who had been in and out of consciousness, was able to free himself after about an hour and found his wife in the hallway, still with bindings over her hands, ankles and mouth.

He removed the bindings, but she died. She had suffered a broken nose and, as the bindings were over her mouth, she couldn’t expel the blood so, in effect, she “drowned in her own blood”, a court previously heard.

Mr Fabriczy and Mr Vekony have both pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Palasics.

In addition, they are accused of using force to rob Mr Palasics, stealing $30,000 in cash from him while armed with a 30 to 50 cm long solid, cylindrical weapon, as well as assaulting and unlawfully confining him on 6 November 1999. They are also accused of burglarising the Mackellar home on the same date.

Lastly Mr Vekony, who was arrested in December 2023, is accused of assaulting Ms Palasics as well as burglarising a home in Red Hill on 10 October 1998.

When Mr Fabriczy’s case was called in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday (25 January), he did not appear in person. The court heard the prosecution wanted a six-week adjournment as while the brief of evidence had been provided to his defence team, there was still more material to come.

Acting Registrar Belinda Barry remarked that was “quite a long period of time” and the matter had first come before the court in September 2023, but prosecutor Trent Hickey said the nature of the charge showed it had been “a complicated investigation” while “the brief will be large and complex”.

Tom Taylor of Hugo Law Group said his client wanted his matters committed to the Supreme Court “as soon as possible” and wanted this to occur on the next occasion it appeared in the lower court.

Mr Fabriczy has already been charged with armed robbery, assault, unlawful confinement and two counts of burglary.

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When Mr Vekony’s matter was called, he was handed fresh charges of armed robbery and unlawful confinement as well as three counts of burglary and two counts of assault.

Dressed in a suit and wearing glasses, he did appear in court in person and each charge was read out to him by a Hungarian interpreter.

Mr Hickey also asked for a six-week adjournment so the balance of material in this matter could be given to Mr Vekony’s lawyers.

His barrister, Travis Jackson, said the current adjournment application was by consent, but any further such application would be opposed.

Both matters were adjourned to 7 March and both men have been remanded in custody.

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