The million dollar reward by the Victorian government for solving the 1997 murder of Mersina Halvagis is now up for grabs following Peter Dupas’ failed appeal.
The key witness whose testimony helped convict serial killer Peter Norris Dupas over the 1997 murder of Mersina Halvagis is among several people now eligible for a share of the million-dollar reward.
Dupas’ appeal against conviction was dismissed on Friday, prompting expectation that former lawyer-turned-author Andrew Fraser, along with several other people who gave evidence that led to Dupas’ conviction, will reapply for the reward.
Mr Fraser testified that while he was serving a jail term for cocaine offences in the same protection unit as Dupas, the killer mimed the fatal stabbing in his cell. He also made several incriminating statements about the murder, which took place as Ms Halvagis tended her grandmother’s grave at Fawkner Cemetery.
His evidence provided the breakthrough in the case that police and Ms Halvagis’ long-suffering family had longed for. Former director of public prosecutions Paul Coghlan has stated: ”Without Fraser’s evidence of Dupas’ confession, there would not have been a prosecution.”
But Mr Fraser told Fairfax that he was not the story. ”This is about the Halvagis family who now get to spend their first Christmas in 15 years with some peace, so it would be inappropriate for me to comment.”
Dupas, now 59, was first convicted in 2007 of murdering Ms Halvagis, 25, but was granted a retrial on appeal.
A second jury then found him guilty in November 2010, but he launched another appeal, claiming that he had been denied justice.
A bench of five judges unanimously rejected the appeal.
Outside court, Ms Halvagis’ younger brother, Bill, said this Christmas would be a special one, as the ”thing” who murdered his sister had lost what is expected to be his final battle to wriggle free of responsibility for her brutal killing.
”Finally Mersina can lay to rest and we can get on with our lives and remember her … and cherish the moments we had with her,” he said.
Asked if there was anything he would like to say to Mr Fraser, he said: ”He did his part.”
The reward for information that led to a conviction was increased to $1 million in 2005.
Mr Fraser and others applied after his first trial but any payout was put on hold pending the appeal process. Any reward applications will be processed and passed on to Chief Commissioner Ken Lay for assessment.
Dupas is serving three life sentences without parole for Ms Halvagis’ murder and the 1997 and 1999 murders of Margaret Maher and Nicole Patterson. He is a suspect in several other unsolved murders.
Source: The Age