Defendants spend years in jail waiting trial. What happens when they’re not guilty

Seven people charged with masterminding and committing a murder in western Sydney in 2019 spent a total of 5,661 days – or 15 and a half years – in prison before being found not guilty last month.

Brutally beaten and then left in the parking lot of his apartment building in Girraween, Vergel Velasquez, 42, died of his injuries in hospital on New Year’s Eve 2019.

Vergel Vesqualez died in hospital on New Year’s Eve 2019.

Over the next nine months, murder investigators charged Leslie Fernando, 49, Lionel McGrady, 50, Michael Porter, 41, Shane Weatherall, 42, Jeremy Smith, 39, Stacey Kelly-Greenup, 35, and David Beale, 44, over the deaths.

They were all denied bail prior to trial – Fernando, McGrady, Porter and Weatherall each spent 829 days in pretrial detention; Smith and Kelly-Greenup each spent 822 days and Beale spent 701 days in prison ahead of the NSW Supreme Court-only trial held earlier this year.

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Kelly-Greenup stayed with Velasquez in his Girraween unit after the breakdown of her relationship with Smith, with whom she shared three sons.

Stacey Kelly Greenup was arrested in Kingsford in June 2020.

Credit:NSW Police

Detectives say she repeatedly claimed that Velasquez assaulted her, prompting Smith to force five employees from his hometown of Moree — Fernando, Porter, McGrady, Weatherall and Beale — to beat Velasquez in his garage the day before New Year’s Eve 2019.

“It’s the Crown case that Mrs Kelly-Greenup published” [an] to one or more of the accused and that she and Mr Smith have entered into an agreement to attack the deceased in retaliation or retaliation for that attack,” Judge Elizabeth Fullerton said in a Sept. 30 verdict.

No evidence of this was provided during the trial, nor of the alleged assault.


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