8 December 2023

UPDATE: Second Melbourne man enters plea over alleged murder of Irma Palasics

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

UPDATE 10:30 am: Joseph Vekony has pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder in the ACT Magistrates Court.

The 68-year-old Endeavour Hills man was arrested on Wednesday (6 December) and extradited to Canberra over the 1999 death of Irma Palasics.

Members of Mrs Palasics’ family sobbed as Mr Vekony entered the courtroom for the first time.

He did not apply for bail, and has been listed to appear again on 25 January 2024.

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10 am: Irma Palasics’ family has expressed its “great relief” that a second man, Joseph Vekony, has been charged with murder over the grandmother’s death in 1999.

Grandson John Mikita said while 24 years was a long time to wait for answers, they had never given up hope that the two men who allegedly attacked his grandparents would be found.

“We never gave up hope, we never stayed silent, we made sure the community never forgot what happened to my grandparents on 6 November 1999, in the safety of their own home in McKellar,” he said.

Melbourne man Steve Fabriczy was arrested in September and charged with multiple offences over the alleged crimes, but it had always been thought a second person had been involved.

Mr Mikita said this second man, who had now been arrested, was unknown to his family.

“We continue to question why him and his [alleged] accomplice came all the way to Canberra to commit these vicious crimes against my grandparents,” he said.

“This wasn’t the average robbery. My grandparents were beaten, tormented for hours and my grandmother was left to die on the lounge room floor.”

Mr Mikita thanked all detectives, forensic teams and support staff in ACT Policing for their work over the past two decades to find justice for his grandparents.

“ACT Police have done a phenomenal job with the limited resources and funding they have, resulting in these arrests, which show how committed they are, how much they care about finding justice for families like ours, and keeping our community safe from dangerous criminals such as those who prey on the vulnerable,” he said.

Other families continue to wait for answers, and our message to them is that they should never give up hope, as the arrest of my grandmother’s alleged murderers is proof that justice can also prevail for them.”

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Detective Superintendent Scott Moller outlined that the second man, a 68-year-old from Endeavour Hills in Melbourne, was arrested on Wednesday (6 December) and extradited to the ACT yesterday.

He has been charged with one count of murder, but further charges are possible.

Det Supt Moller said the “tremendous work” of investigators and the entire ACT Policing team had joined the dots and resulted in these arrests.

“Not one piece of evidence or process has brought us here. It’s about a combination of all this and, ultimately, detectives and the work they’ve done,” he said.

Reward money had been on the table to help solve this crime; however, that will not be paid out.

The investigation is still ongoing, with Det Supt Moller issuing another appeal for information from the public.

“I think there are certainly other people who have knowledge of this matter. There are certainly other people that know what’s happened, and certainly after it knew it had happened, and haven’t come forward – and we’d love to talk with those people,” he said.

Mr Vekony is due to front ACT Magistrate’s Court this morning (Friday, 8 December).

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I, too, thank the police for finally giving the family the knowledge of who did that. I was working with a family member at the time. I remember how devastated they were. God bless and keep her soul.

I give credit to the family who were relentless in their pursuit of justice. There were many rumours and we don’t know what drove these violent perpetrators and who knew what. But there are those in the community who know and I hope they come forward

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