MURDERER: Left; Daniel Petryk, 25, of Windale, was on Monday found guilty of murder over the shooting of Robert Parry at Wickham in March, 2015. Right; police investigate the home invasion shooting in Dickson Street. DANIEL Petryk’s problems started with a poker machine.
The day before he snuck into the home of small-time cannabis dealer Robert Parry armed with a .22 shortened single-shot firearm,Petryk sat down in the pokie room of the Lambton Park Hoteland began to play.
He didn’t know it, but the decision to have a flutter on that Friday in March, 2015, would set in train a series of events that would lead to Mr Parry’s violent death in the botched home invasion“drug rip” and Petryk facing the prospect of life in jail.
After an often dramaticfive-week trial in Newcastle Supreme Court–during which Petryk’s co-accusedJesse Nikolovski was acquitted of murder and Petryk was forced to change his legal counsel after trying to change his story–the jury took a little over nine hours to find Petryk guilty of murder and armed robbery on Monday.
With no physical evidence tying Petryk to the scene, the prosecution case rested on the shoulders of one witness; a woman who said she was with Petryk and Nikolovski, 24, of Mayfield, during the home invasion.
The witness, who cannot be identified, told the jury she was armed with an axe when she snuck into the home behind Petryk and watched as he pulled the trigger and Mr Parry, a well-known Wickham identity who was deaf in one ear and left his front door unlocked,fell to the ground.
Petryk had maintained he wasn’t there that night.
But the trial heard that the day before the home invasion,hewas having a punt on the poker machines.
TRIAL: Main; Robert Parry (right) with his late father, Alan Parry. Left; Jesse Nikolovski was acquitted of murder, but pleaded guilty to armed robbery over the home invasion at Wickham. Right; Robert Parry’s sisters, Susie and Lynda Parry, after Daniel Petryk was found guilty of murder on Monday.
CCTVfootage played during the trial revealed that Petryk’s gamble at midday on March 6, 2015,was unsuccessful.
And frustrated at losing his cash, he decided to urinateinto a schooner glass and pourthe contents into a couple of the machines.
The licensee confronted him, watched the footage and called the police.
Petryk, on parole and thenundertaking the Drug Court program, knew any offence could land him back in jail.
“I’m f—ed,” Petryk texted a mate at 4.03pm that day.“I’m getting charged so I’ve gotta take off to Queensland.”But first,Petryk would need a firearm.
Petryk, then 23 and living at Windale, had been after a gun for a while and had been hassling this mate to provide one.
And on this night, only hours after the incident with the poker machine, the mate relented, agreeing to leave a.22 shortenedsingle-shot firearm and some ammunition in a bag outside his home.
Petryk swung by to collect it after midnight on March 7.
With him was Nikolovski, then 21, ofMayfield, and a young woman, who would later become the key witness in the murder trial against the two men.
Petryk had a plan to make a quick score before he fled north to avoid his problems.
“He said that he knew a house that his brother used to buy pot from,” the woman told the jury.“That the door would be open and that we would just sneak in and grab the pot.”
Petryk directed Nikolovski, driving a white Holden Commodore, to Wickham, where he parked a block away from Mr Parry’s Dickson Street home.
The trio got out, put on gloves and covered their faces. Petryk grabbed an axe and tried to hand it to Nikolovski, but he wouldn’t take it.
Instead, the woman was armed with the axe, while Petryk had the gun, the woman told the jury.
When asked by Crown prosecutor Lee Carr what the plan was, the woman replied: “Daniel was going to sneak in and if there was no one around he was just going to grab the pot and if there was someone around we were there to just look scary so he could take it”.
She said she was “a metre or two” behind Petryk in the loungeroom of Mr Parry’s home when she saw a man.
“He was holding a can in his hand,” the woman said.
“He went to whack Daniel. “I think I recall him telling us to f— off out of his house.
“Daniel let the gun off.
“[The man] dropped to the ground.”
Petryk’s defence disputed her account and always maintained he wasn’t there that night.
But ultimatelythe woman’s evidence sunk him and wholly exonerated Nikolovski on the murder charge, with the woman telling the court Nikolovski didn’t know the firearm Petryk was carrying was loaded.
That evidence led to Justice Helen Wilson giving the jury a directed verdict of not guilty in relation to the murder charge against Nikolovski.
Then, two days later, in the jury’s absence, Nikolovski pleaded guilty to the armed robbery of Mr Parry and disappeared from the court dock.
After the directed verdict, Petryk spoke with his counsel,Public Defender Mark Austin and his instructing solicitor Mandy Hull, with that discussion leading Mr Austin and Ms Hull to withdraw from the matter.
Mr Austin was too polished a practitioner to air the dirty laundry in court, but Justice Wilson made it clear later that the parting of ways related to Petryk wishing to “change his version of events”.
A week of wasted court time later, and with new legal counsel, the pressure was on Petryk to decide whether he was going to run a defence case or not.
After Petryk claimed he was too sick to follow the evidence on Tuesday last week, Justice Wilson dismissed the jury for the day.
But after the final juror had filed fromthe courtroom, Her Honour made it clear to Petryk how she felt about his delaying tactics.
“I want to make it very clear, that this court’s patience is now at an end,” Justice Wilson said.
“This comes about, it seems to me, from everything that has been said, by him having a change of mind as to what his version of events might be and how he wants that version of events portrayedto the court.
“I do not propose to allow this court to be manipulated or held to hostage by an accused who cannot make up his own mind.”
Petryk returned to court on Wednesday and his new counsel, Public Defender Angus Webb, told Justice Wilson there would be no defence case.
Then, once closing arguments were out of the way, the jury retired at 12.50pm on Thursday to begin deliberating.
They returned on Monday to deliver their verdict, finding beyond reasonable doubt that it was Petryk who pulled the trigger and killed Mr Parry.
The verdictwas a huge relief to Mr Parry’s family, includingtwo of his sisters Susie and Lynda Parry, who sat through much of the trial.
“Robert is dearly missed by us all,” Lynda Parry said in a statement on behalf of the family.
“We particularly miss his smiles and his ever-ready willingness to help us and others in the community.
“There is a hole in our hearts and lives which can never be filled.
“The loss and pain of losing Robert can not be measured.”Petryk will be sentenced on February 2and faces the prospect of life imprisonment.
Nikolovski will be sentenced for the armed robbery on the same date and faces the maximum of 25 years in jail.
But before he is sentenced for his involvement in robbingMr Parry, Nikolovski will appear in CampbelltownDistrict Court to be sentencedfor three armed robberies and a conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
One thing the jury in the murder trial wasn’t told was that in the months after the bungled home invasion at Mr Parry’s house, Nikolovski and a crew of armed thieves got to work holding up Sydney pubs.