Saturday, March 21, 2009

A conviction based on suspicion only!

It was sweet relief for Chris Szitovszky when his lawyer called him to tell him he was a free man. Mr Szitovszky, who was imprisoned for almost two years for a crime he swears he did not commit -- murdering his father with an axe - says he never lost hope his conviction would be quashed.

About 3.30pm yesterday, his mother, Helen, flanked by family friends, embraced him as he walked out of Fulham Prison gates near Sale, putting behind them two years of frustration and hell. "I'm ecstatic. I'm over the moon," he said. "I can't wait to get home. It's been a long time but I never gave up hope. It's been pretty hard. "It's just been difficult to deal with being in prison for something I didn't do. I couldn't have done it without the support of my family, friends and, of course, my lawyers."

Christopher Leslie Szitovszky, 26, was freed by Victoria's Court of Appeal. He had always maintained his innocence after his father Peter, 58, was found dead outside the family's Wheelers Hill home.

Peter Szitovszky died after being struck with an axe about 14 times to the neck, face and torso in the early hours of July 1, 2004.

Christopher Szitovszky told police he had been woken about 3.30am by arguing and dogs barking, but did not go to investigate until three hours later when he found his father's body.

Two witnesses described seeing a man in his 20s yelling outside the Szitovszky home but neither saw his face.

A Supreme Court jury was told the son and father's relationship had become strained years earlier when the family had financial difficulties. Mr Szitovszky's mother worked two full-time jobs because her husband had depression and often stayed at home in bed.

A jury found Mr Szitovszky guilty of murder in April 2007 and he was sentenced to 18 years' jail with a minimum of 13.

He is free now but his family still want justice - to find his father's killer. Helen Szitovszky said her husband's killer was still to be found. "It is up to the police to find him," she said.

Mr Szitovszky said he had not only the support of his mother, Helen, and brother, Simon, but his father's family in Hungary. "Nobody ever doubted me," he said.

Mr Szitovszky's appeal focused on the verdict being "unsafe and unsatisfactory" to which Court of Appeal justices Frank Vincent, Geoffrey Nettle and Peter Vickery unanimously agreed.

They found there was no forensic evidence linking Mr Szitovszky to the murder and the evidence of the two witnesses was insufficient to identity him as the killer.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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