Cases Decided On Circumstantial Evidence
Victor P Taffa
Circumstantial evidence relies on an inference to connect it to a conclusion of fact such as a fingerprint at the scene of a crime or preceding events.
Murder of Megan Kalajzich of Fairlight, New South Wales in 1986 was decided on Circumstantial Evidence.
In the early morning of 27 January 1986, Megan Kalajzich was shot twice in the head as she slept beside her husband in their home. Two shots were also fired into Andrew Kalajzich’s pillow; he claims that he was able to roll out of the way of the bullets.
Although he pleaded not guilty, Andrew Kalajzich, the victim’s husband, was found guilty of her murder in May 1988, and sentenced to 25 years in prison without parole. He was released from prison on 8 February 2012.
Andrew Kalajzich was born in Australia in 1941, after his parents migrated from Yugoslavia in 1939.
He grew up working in his family’s fish shop in Manly, and by the age of 25 he and his brother established their own business in Manly.
He married Megan Carmichael in 1962 and they had two children together, Michelle and Andrew.
Andrew Kalajzich became a well-respected and wealthy figure on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. He was elected the president of the Manly Chamber of Commerce in 1972, and opened the Manly Pacific International Hotel in 1983.
Just 16 days before Megan’s death she was attacked at her Fairlight home at gunpoint, however the gun failed to fire.
In an 11-week trial at the New South Wales Supreme Court during 1988, Andrew Kalajzich was found guilty of the murder of his wife.
Evidence was provided that Andrew Kalajzich had hired hitman Bill Vandenberg, paying him $20,000 to murder his wife.
Andrew Kalajzich was charged with murder, conspiring to murder, and for the discharge of a firearm with the intention of murder. Bill Vandenberg was also charged, however he killed himself whilst in prison awaiting trial.
Andrew Kalajzich vigorously appealed the verdict, culminating in a 1995 judicial enquiry by John Slattery QC (retired Supreme Court Judge), who rejected Andrew Kalajzich’s appeals, saying that he had “no doubts or questions about the guilt of the petitioner”.
Andrew Kalajzich and his children have continued to maintain that he is innocent of the charges.