CONTENT WARNING: This article contains graphic content.
The man who will be charged with murder over the death of 73-year-old Irma Palasics in 1999 was allegedly linked to the case via DNA, as well as his own admission that he had been at her house for a burglary.
Police arrested 68-year-old Steve Fabriczy at his home in Rowville, Melbourne, on Wednesday (20 September) in a major breakthrough after decades investigating the long-running case.
On 6 November 1999, two masked intruders had forced their way into the McKellar home Ms Palasics shared with her partner Gregor Palasics.
The elderly couple were violently assaulted by the men who demanded the location of money and valuables hidden in the house, Detective Sergeant Jason Marriott of the Australian Federal Police told the Dandenong Magistrates Court on Thursday (21 September).
When the couple were not forthcoming, they were bound with cable ties, duct tape and a telephone cord, and their house was ransacked.
Detective Marriott said Mr Palasics, who had been in and out of consciousness, was able to free himself and found his wife in the hallway, still with bindings over her hands, ankles and mouth. He removed the bindings, but she died.
The detective said Ms Palasics had suffered a broken nose, and as the bindings were over her mouth, she couldn’t expel the blood, so she effectively “drowned in her own blood”.
After a long investigation, Detective Marriott alleged a potential DNA match had linked Fabriczy to the scene. He said DNA had been collected by Victoria Police years earlier and the Australian Federal Police forensics team confirmed that match in July 2020.
An investigation began into Fabriczy, culminating on 8 September 2023, when it is alleged he made several admissions regarding his involvement in the incident.
It is alleged he admitted being on the premises for a burglary. Detective Marriott accepted it was not a full admission, but claimed he had given details that would only be known to someone involved.
He had, however, denied assaulting or murdering anyone. The detective claimed these were false denials.
Fabriczy was in court for an application to extradite him to the ACT to face a charge of murder. He didn’t oppose being extradited but sought to be extradited on bail rather than in custody.
The prosecutor opposed this, with Detective Marriott saying Fabriczy was a dual citizen of Australia and Hungary and had visited the latter for five months last year.
He has land in Hungary and planned to retire there. While he is currently unemployed, he has significant financial assets, as he owns his own home, has a healthy superannuation balance and has $250,000 in his bank account, the court heard.
Detective Marriott also said police believe Fabriczy knows the second person allegedly involved in the home invasion and were concerned the pair could collude if he were released on bail.
He said he has no ties to the ACT and has one daughter in Hungary.
Fabriczy’s lawyer said her client could surrender his passport and faced ongoing medical issues so he could attend his GP to get assistance if he was released on bail.
Magistrate Jason Ong, who noted Fabriczy had not yet been charged with murder, said the man denied being part of the assault, even if he seemed to admit being there. It seemed he would contest the charge, the magistrate said.
Ultimately, Magistrate Ong said he was not satisfied the risks of releasing him on bail could be met by conditions and ordered him to be extradited to the ACT Magistrates Court in the custody of Detective Marriott.
He is expected to appear in the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday (22 September).