The NSW Coroner’s Court has criticised police handling of the investigation into the disappearance of Sydney man Richard Sajko in 1995.
Deputy State Coroner Carmel Forbes found that Sajko died under suspicious circumstances on or about May 19, 1995, after finishing work at AVIS car rental at Mascot airport.
But her findings take issue with the conduct of the investigation headed by Frank Mennilli, who is now South-West Metro Region Police Commander. She noted several deficiencies in the investigation.
“[The first week] is the most important time for focusing available resources, and securing evidence of the last known movements of the person, and evidence which might suggest possible theories as to what has happened to them,” Forbes said. The investigation, however, postponed some critical steps in gathering evidence.
Ms Forbes recommended that the case be referred to the Unsolved Homicide Unit of the New South Wales Police Force for further investigation.
Sajko, 21 at the time, was a shy and quiet young man who enjoyed his job and had an interest in cars.
He and Sam Testalamuta Jr, a friend, were arrested and charged in October 1994 with stealing a car and were due to face court in August 1995.
In May 1995 Sajko told his mother, Rozi Sajko, that he had received death threats from Testalamuta Jr in connection to the contradicting statements made at the August arrest.
In the days leading to his untimely death, his AVIS of workmates noticed he was anxious and “on edge”.
Sajko was last seen by two workmates sitting in his red Holden Commodore after his shift with an unidentified passenger.
He was expected to visit his mother the following day for Mother’s Day. She became concerned with his whereabouts when he did not arrive or call her.
His car was found abandoned, blocking a driveway in Croydon.
Since his disappearance, there has been no trace of Sajko being alive. Family and friends have not heard from him. Nor has there been activity in his bank account or government records. – Alisha Buaya
Top photo supplied.