Four violent killers who could walk free from jail
Teen murderer Matthew De Gruchy, who slaughtered his mother, brother and sister, is the first of four killers who could walk free after serving sentences that victims' advocates warned years ago would come back to haunt judges.
Between them the men - De Gruchy, Michael Wallace, Ljube Velevski and Michael Guider - killed nine people but not one of them will serve more than 25 years behind bars.
The senior crown prosecutor who prosecuted all four of them, now high-profile District Court Judge Paul Conlon DC, on Thursday spoke out, saying that sentences for multiple homicides were harsher these days.
Acting Judge Conlon said he could not comment on individual cases but said: "At that time the sentences in respect of multiple murder victims were lighter then than sentences handed down today."
De Gruchy's release follows last week's decision by the State Parole Authority to grant parole to triple-murderer Berwyn Rees.
He has served 27 years for shooting dead Bondi gun shop manager Raymond James and customer Christopher Greenfield in 1977, and for the murder of Sergeant Keith Haydon three years later.
"You have to ask yourself how the hell these people were not given life sentences," Howard Brown, who began his advocacy on behalf of victims of crime 30 years ago, said on Thursday.
"After I started my victims' advocacy, I pointed out that by not imposing life sentences, they would come back and haunt judges and subsequent governments, and that is what is happening."
Figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research show that, apart from life sentences, the average murder sentence in 1996 was 15 years four months while last year it was just over 26 years.
"It was a pathetic time in the courts and the judges were just not imposing long sentences then," a legal source said.
De Gruchy, 41, jailed in 1998 for a total of 28 years, walked free from Sydney's Long Bay Jail on parole after serving 23 years for brutally killing his mother Jennifer, 42, brother Adrian, 15, and sister Sarah, 13, in their Albion Park home.
De Gruchy, who was 18 at the time, inflicted massive head wounds.
He pleaded not guilty and Mr Conlon, acting as prosecutor, told the jury the Crown did not have to prove a motive.
De Gruchy yesterday covered his face as he was driven away in a silver Holden Cruze. He is not allowed to contact family members apart from his father Wayne De Gruchy and any paternal relation or return to the Wollongong region until his parole expires in June 2024.
Former cop Michael Wallace, 67, who was jailed for 20 years in 2006 for the murder of Zoe Zou, the mistress of a wealthy businessman, is due to be released on September 3.
He appeared frail when last appearing before the parole authority earlier this year.
Wallace, 67, had admitted to shooting Zoe Zou but claimed he was provoked.
Mr Conlon gave the jury another explanation, that Ms Zou had paid Wallace $20,000 to kill the wife of her lover, but Wallace had decided to keep the money and kill her instead.
The jury convicted him of murder.
The Supreme Court is due to decide next week on whether to release serial paedophile Guider, 68, who pleaded guilty in 2002 to the 1986 manslaughter of Bondi schoolgirl Samantha Knight.
When he, made his admission he was already serving time for 68 sex offences against girls and boys.
Guider was due to be freed in June but the Supreme Court imposed an interim detention order which kept him behind bars as they consider a government bid to keep him locked up for another year.
Velevski, 54, jailed for just 25 years for slashing the throats of his wife and three children, will come up for parole early next year.