An Australian man determined to prove he didn’t kill his gay lover 40 years ago turned to a popular TV show to help him prove his innocence. However, it didn’t go as he planned.
The murder took place in 1979. David Szach, then 19, had been living with his older lover, Adelaide lawyer Derrance Stevenson, 44, for three years. Sachs was found guilty of the crime.
During his trial, prosecutors used testimony provided by South Australia’s former chief forensic pathologist Colin Manock.
However, Manock had no formal qualifications as a pathologist and his evidence in other cases has been discredited.
Szach has always maintained his innocence. He appealed against the conviction but lost his appeal in 1980. Legal experts have said they believe Szach’s case should again be independently reviewed.
In prison, Szach declined to apply for parole as he said doing so would be an admission of his guilt. He spent 14 years in jail. Since being released he has continued to profess his innocence.
South Australia changed its law in 2013 and allowed convicted criminals to launch a second appeal if there is new evidence of a wrongful conviction.
A solicitor acting on Szach’s behalf says he intends to launch a second appeal at some point but he’s had trouble finding the funding. An application for funding assistance was turned down as Szach faces no more jail time for the crime.
Szach has developed Motor Neurone Disease and in his own words, doesn’t have “much time left.” While preparing to launch a formal appeal, he has turned to an Australian TV show, Debi Marshall Investigates, to look again at his alleged crime.
Its known Stevenson was killed at some point between June, 4-5, 1979. Other men are believed to have been at his home during this two-day period, besides Szach. Police originally charged an Italian man, alongside Szach, as an accessory to murder. However, the charges were later dropped and the man returned to Italy. No charges against anyone else were made.
Author Debi Marshall and NSW Police forensics detective Kris Illingsworth reviewed the case over 18 months. The results are revealed on the five-part series and accompanying podcast, Debi Marshall Investigates… Frozen Lies.
To Szach’s deep disappointment, in the show’s final episode, broadcast next week, they inform him on camera that they don’t believe he’s innocent. According to Adelaide Now, they go so far to tell him they believe he committed the murder and likely covered up the involvement of others.
Having served his time in prison and facing his likely death, Szach says he has no reason to lie.
“I did not kill Derrance Stevenson, I played no part whatsoever in his murder.
“That is your ending it’s not my ending,” he says as he walks off the set.
The episode is due to air in Australia Tuesday night (October, 22nd) on Foxtel.