Not guilty plea: Ron Medich. Photo: Kate Geraghty
Millionaire property developer Ronald Medich has formally pleaded not guilty to the murder of Michael McGurk, paving the way for his trial to begin in August next year.
Mr Medich, the alleged mastermind of Mr McGurk’s shooting murder outside his Cremorne home in September 2009, stood in the NSW Supreme Court and, flanked by his lawyers, declared “not guilty” to the murder in a firm, loud voice.
He also pleaded not guilty to a charge of intimidation in relation to Mr McGurk’s wife Kim.
Shot dead: Michael McGurk. Photo: Supplied
Though Mr Medich has firmly maintained his innocence since he was charged in October 2010, including during an emotional speech following his committal earlier this year, he has never formally entered a plea.
Justice Megan Latham set the matter down for trial on August 25 next year, what is likely to be the trial of the year.
Mr Medich’s barrister, high-profile QC Winston Terricini, attempted to have the date changed, indicating that he was not available. But this was rejected by the judge.
“I’ll have to deal with my father your honour,” Mr Terricini said.
“We all have our crosses to bear Mr Terricini,” Justice Latham replied.
In committing Mr Medich, 65, to stand trial for the murder, Magistrate Jan Stevenson said that it was striking how “grossly amateur” the murder was and that it lacked a “scintilla of professionalism”.
She said that although there was no direct evidence or any intercepted phone conversations linking Mr Medich to the murder, she was satisfied by the evidence of the Crown’s star witness, Fortunato “Lucky” Gattellari.
Gattellari was Mr Medich’s right-hand man and he benefited greatly by Mr Medich’s financial largesse. He told the court that he received up to $ 500,000 in cash from Mr Medich to organise the murder and the later intimidation of Mrs McGurk.
The magistrate said she was not persuaded by the proposition put forward by Medich’s legal team that Gattellari was off “on a frolic of his own”.
After committing Mr Medich to stand trial, the magistrate asked him if he wanted to say anything, warning him that anything he said may be used against him at this trial.
Mr Medich, who was shaking, stood to read from a prepared statement.
“I am not guilty of these offences. I have always said so and that’s all along from the beginning.”
Mr Medich said he was not “a violent person” and he had never authorised anyone to murder Mr McGurk.
He blamed Gattellari for the murder, saying his former friend feared that Mr McGurk was going to expose Gattellari as “a crook who was stealing from me big time” and that “Gattellari hated Odetta (Medich’s wife) because she was too smart for him”.