Halvagis family thankful 'justice has been served'
Appeal by serial killer Peter Norris Dupas over his conviction for the graveside stabbing of Mersina Halvagis 15 years ago has been rejected.PT1M6S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2bqld 620 349 December 21, 2012
Standing outside the Supreme Court, Bill Halvagis said this Christmas would be a special one, as the ‘‘thing’’ who murdered his sister Mersina had lost what could be his final battle to wriggle free of responsibility for the brutal killing.
‘‘She’ll forever be in our hearts and we thank everyone who helped us through the process to get to today and it’s about time justice is served in this matter with Mersina,’’ Mr Halvagis said.
‘‘There’s been enough money wasted in dragging us through every single court in Australia and to move on and it’s good for it to be over and for all of us to remember Mersina how she was and just push this moment of her life, this unfortunate moment away.’’
Emotional ... Christina Halvagis, the mother of Mersina Halvagis, is consoled outside the Court of Appeal. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
The Halvagis family had just watched the Court of Appeal reject an appeal by serial killer Peter Norris Dupas over his latest murder conviction for the graveside stabbing of Ms Halvagis 15 years ago.
Outside court, Mersina’s father, George Halvagis, said ‘‘This is the end. Me and my family have been through so much’’.
The result means the state government may now have to pay rewards to several people who came forward with information that led to his conviction.
Rejected ... Peter Dupas in 2005. Photo: John Donegan
Dupas, now 59, was first convicted in 2007 of murdering Ms Halvagis, 25, as she tended her grandmother’s grave at Fawkner Cemetery on November 1, 1997. But he was granted a retrial on appeal.
A second jury then found him guilty in November 2010.
He claimed he had been denied justice and that three eyewitnesses who saw him at the cemetery on the day of her murder should have been excluded from his trial.
Seven months since the appeal was heard, Chief Justice Marilyn Warren, Court of Appeal President Chris Maxwell and Justices Geoffrey Nettle, Robert Redlich and Bernard Bongiorno unanimously rejected his arguments on Friday, explaining the result in a 123-page judgment.
Dupas is serving three life sentences without parole for the stabbing murders of Nicole Patterson, Margaret Maher and Ms Halvagis.
He unsuccessfully appealed against the Patterson and Maher convictions.
He is also believed responsible for several other unsolved murders.
Dupas appeared via video link from prison wearing a green bomber jacket.
Bill Halvagis said the family was thrilled with the result.
‘‘[For the appeal] to be dismissed after 15 years, 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.
‘‘It’s going to be better to put it away and forget about that ‘thing’ in jail,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s never going to be the same ... because Mersina will never be back with us, but we’ll move on and live through our kids and their grandkids and do our best to remember the good times we had with her and use that to live on.’’
He described Dupas as a ’’nothing’’ and said the family did not expect to have to face a High Court challenge.
‘‘I can’t see anyone forking out their own money to take it to the Hight Court,’’ he said.
‘‘Millions of dollars have already been spent when this should have ended six or seven years ago, so enough people have tried to make their name out of this one and we can move on.’’
Asked if there was anything he would like to say to former lawyer-turned-author Andrew Fraser, who gave evidence about a jailhouse pantomime Dupas performed while they were in prison together that helped convict Dupas, Bill Halvagis said: "He did his part."
Fraser, along with several witnesses who saw Dupas at the cemetery on the day of the murder are all in line for rewards offered by the state government.
The decision regarding payment of rewards is an operational matter for Victoria Police.
A force spokeswoman said: "We will consider any reward applications related to the death of Mersina Halvagis in line [with] our established process".