Body in freezer killer’s twisted TV bid backfires
A convicted killer's pitch to a TV network to help prove his innocence has spectacularly backfired with the team's 18-month investigation finding he not only did the murder, but has likely covered up the involvement of others.
David Szach was 19-years-old when he was charged in June 1979 with the murder of his then lover, prominent Adelaide lawyer Derrance Stevenson, whose body was found packed into a freezer with a single gunshot wound to the back of his head.
The so-called 'body in the freezer case' made national headlines, and Szach spent 14 years in jail until 1993, professing his innocence as late as this year and hiring a lawyer and working with an investigative TV documentary crew from Foxtel to help him prove it.
But after pouring over the evidence, recreating the full crime scene and finding a key witness who let slip new evidence during an 18-month investigation, the Foxtel documentary crew led by author Debi Marshall and top FBI-trained criminal profiler and former NSW Police forensics detective Kris Illingsworth found justice was probably served.
Critically, the Frozen Lies crew tracked down Stevenson associate Gino Gambardella who left Australia in 1980 after a charge of being an accessory after the fact of Stevenson's murder was dropped, but while inquiries into allegations of sexual assault against him were ongoing.
He had told court and police he drove past the Stevenson house on the night of the murder and saw no car there so drove on without stopping, but in his Foxtel telephone interview he said he stopped and had knocked on the door of the home. When the inconsistency was pointed out he hung up.
Mr Szach's lawyer Tony Kerin, partner for law firm Grope Hamilton Lawyers, said yesterday an appeal was still to be lodged in court over the murder regardless of Foxtel's conclusions.
"I am fully aware of what they concluded but they are a TV series show so it's not necessarily based on legal principles and that's what we will be basing our case on," Mr Kerin said.
Under a change in South Australian legislation, a convicted criminal can launch a second appeal if compelling new evidence is found.
"I did not kill Derrance Stevenson, I played no part whatsoever in his murder," Szach said as he was warned by Foxtel, any findings could work against him as much as for him.
The documentary's forensic analysis also found Szach's timeline of when he was or wasn't at the house didn't stack up and the crime scene had been altered.
Ironically the case still could be appealed on a technicality, with the original forensic analysis carried out by a now disgraced South Australian chief forensic pathologist, Dr Colin Manock, who has already had two cases he's testified in overturned on account of his unreliable forensic evidence.
Szach said he had no reason to lie now and he was bitterly disappointed the documentary crew had only "added to the overall complexity of this".
"That is your ending it's not my ending," he fumed as he walked off the set as the crew finalised filming and put their verdict to him.