Third time’s not a charm: Jeweller found guilty of killing partner
A Sydney jeweller twice cleared of killing his male partner has continued to plead his innocence this week after he was found guilty of his manslaughter.
In a first for NSW, Phillip Leung was found guilty over the death of his 72-year-old partner, Mario Guzzetti, in their Alexandria home after three trials spanning four years. He is the first person in the state’s history to be charged three times over the same homicide.
Leung, 51, had been acquitted of murder at his original trial in 2009 after Justice Stephen Rothman directed the jury to find him not guilty due to a lack of evidence presented by prosecutors.
Due to controversial double jeopardy laws introduced in 2006 by the former Labor State government, prosecutors successfully appealed the decision in the Court of Criminal Appeal.
Leung then faced a manslaughter trial in April last year where again another judge, Justice Michael Adams, ordered the jury to return a verdict of not guilty. That judgement was then appealed resulting in Leung once again taking to the stand in his defence this year.
The Supreme Court trial heard that Guzzetti was killed early on April 2, 2007 during an argument between the couple over a bag of cement that was left outside their home.
Neighbours said they heard a loud noise before several minutes of silence which was only broken when Leung began to wail hysterically. Witnesses said Leung was holding his bloodied partner, who had sustained head injuries, and rocking back and forth at the base of stairs when they arrived.
When the guilty verdict was read out on Wednesday, Leung seemed to be in shock before he began to cry.
“This is wrong, just wrong,” Leung reportedly said.
It is believed the long running case has cost taxpayers more than $1 million.
Image: Lee Besford (SMH)