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Andrew Peter KALAJZICH





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Murder-for-hire
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 27, 1986
Date of arrest: February 14, 1986
Date of birth: 1941
Victim profile: Megan Kalajzich (his wife)
Method of murder: Shooting (cut-down .22 caliber rifle)
Location: Fairlight, New South Wales, Australia
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on May 27, 1988. Released on February 8, 2012

photo gallery


Megan Kalajzich was shot twice through the head as she slept beside her husband in Fairlight, Sydney, Australia, at about 1am on 27 January 1986. Her husband Andrew Kalajzich served a jail sentence for murder, conspiracy to murder and attempting to use a firearm with the intent to murder.

After serving 25 years in prison, it was announced on 25 January 2012 that Kalajzich would be released on parole. He was subsequently released on 8 February 2012.

Kalajzich and his children have continued to maintain that he is innocent of the charges.


Lindsay Simpson wrote My Husband My Killer: the murder of Megan Kalajzich, co-authored with Sandra Harvey, about the case. It was made into a telemovie starring Colin Friels in 2001.

The Megan Kalajzich murder was the focus of the Crime Investigation Australia season 1 episode "Contract to Kill".


Kalajzich walks free after 25 years

By lisa Davies -

February 8, 2012

A quarter of a century after being jailed for the murder of his wife, Andrew Kalajzich has walked free from prison.

Now aged 71, Kalajzich walked out of Silverwater jail shortly after 11am.

Escorted by Corrective Services officers and wearing a dark suit, he showed little emotion and declined to say anything to the media other than "thanks for coming" before getting into a blue Toyota Camry.

Granted release by the State Parole Authority last month, Kalajzich had to wait a further two weeks to be formally released on parole.

Advertisement Kalajzich, a former millionaire hotelier, was jailed for the murder and conspiracy to murder of his wife Megan, who was shot twice in the head as she slept at the couple's Fairlight home in January 1986.

Two more bullets were fired into his pillow. He escaped only because he rolled out the way.

He has always denied any wrongdoing, instead claiming somebody broke into his family's home and murdered his wife.

Born in 1941 to Yugoslav migrants, Kalajzich entered his family's prosperous fish and chip shop business, seeing the hotel potential of the nearby Manly ocean waterfront.

He become a respected businessman, building and owning the then Manly Pacific International hotel in the 1970s.

The hotel was opened by then premier Neville Wran in December 1982.

Kalajzich became a lion of the Manly business community, president of its chamber of commerce and a member of the NSW Tourism Commission.

But he was convicted of his wife's contract murder, a jury having found he paid hitman Bill Vandenberg $20,000 to shoot her.

Neither a Court of Criminal appeal challenge nor a 1995 judicial inquiry by retired Supreme Court judge John Slattery, QC, overturned the conviction. The latter ultimately found "there are no doubts or questions about the guilt of the petitioner".

Kalajzich made subsequent attempts to have his sentence reduced, and in 2005 was reported to have written to the state government offering to donate a kidney if he was let out early. The then attorney-general Bob Debus rejected the offer.

The Parole Authority decided to release Kalajzich his 25-year non-parole period expired in December last year.

The Serious Offenders Review Council found that he had been a model prisoner, demonstrating excellent progress in education programs and a strong employment history while in jail.

The council, along with the Probation and Parole Service, supported his release.

No submissions from members of the public nor other interested parties were received by the parole authority in challenge to the expressed intention to release him.

Kalajzich will now be subject to strict parole conditions for three years and will not be allowed to own guns or travel overseas without permission.

If directed, he will have to undertake psychological counselling.

Long-time Kalajzich supporter radio broadcaster Alan Jones said on his 2GB show this morning: "The convicted murderer Andrew Kalajzich will be released from jail on parole today.

“He has served 25 years and one month for the murder of his wife Megan 26 years ago.

“She was shot as he slept in her bed beside him.

“Bullets were also fired into his pillow.

“Various people later testified that Kalajzich had arranged the murder, supposedly because he was having an affair.

“Only one of those people ever claimed to have spoken directly to Kalajzich, and that person received a reduced sentence for giving evidence against him.

“No one in Kalajzich's family, including his wife's mother, who lived with the family in the house where Megan was shot dead, ever believed Kalajzich was guilty of the crime.

“He is now 71. The Serious Offenders Review Council has described him as a model inmate. He'll be released on parole from jail today.”



Andrew Kalajzich: The day that Manly lost its innocence

By John Morcombe -

February 8, 2012

IN the mid-1980s, Andrew Kalajzich was at the top of the business and social tree in Manly.

The multimillionaire son of Yugoslav migrants, he co-owned Manly’s newest and largest hotel, which had been opened by then premier Neville Wran.

He was president of Manly Chamber of Commerce, a member of the NSW Tourism Commission and a close friend of the area’s movers and shakers.

But the empire Kalajzich and his family had spent years building came crashing down on January 27, 1986, when his wife Megan was shot dead as she slept beside her husband in the family’s Fairlight home.

Then Manly mayor Julie Mellowes described the murder as “the day Manly lost its innocence” - but there was worse to come.

Although he acted the grieving husband at his wife’s elaborate funeral on February 1, Kalajzich was hiding a terrible secret - it was he who had arranged the murder of his wife.

The reason for the murder appeared simple - he was infatuated with a younger woman, Marlene Watson.

But what Kalajzich hadn’t counted on was the tenacity of the Manly detective who led the investigation into Megan’s murder - Sergeant Bob Inkster - who, with his team, was driven by the brutal killing of so gentle and well-liked a person as Megan Kalajzich.

Nor had Andrew Kalajzich counted on the incompetence of those with whom he conspired in the murder - Warren Elkins, Kerry Orrock and Franciscus Vandenberg. None of whom had been involved in anything as serious as murder.

Another co-conspirator, George Canellis, had supplied a gun to Orrock but pulled out of the plot when he realised the intended victim of the “hit” was a woman. Canellis later spoke to police out of fear he would be linked to the murder and was subsequently granted immunity from prosecution.

In the end it was the bumbling Vandenberg who fired the fatal shots - the fifth and final attempt Vandenberg made on Megan’s life in the lead-up to her shooting.

Kalajzich, Orrock, Elkins and Vandenberg were arrested on February 14.

Vandenberg confessed immediately but the others protested their innocence.

Kalajzich was discharged in July, only to be arrested again in December 1986 and charged with his wife’s murder. Three days after Kalajzich was re-arrested, Elkins confessed to his part in the conspiracy and Kalajzich’s fate was sealed, although it was not until May, 1988, that he was found guilty.

At the trial, Vandenberg told how he entered the Kalajzichs’ bedroom, stood beside the bed, aimed a rifle at Megan’s head and pulled the trigger. He said he fired two shots into Megan’s head, then two into her husband’s pillow after the latter rolled off the bed - exactly as arranged.

Kalajzich was sentenced to 14 years’ jail for conspiracy, 12 years for attempted murder and life for murder. Orrock and Vandenberg were jailed for life.

Filled with remorse, Vandenberg committed suicide in jail just days after the sentencing.

Still protesting his innocence, Kalajzich lodged an appeal against his conviction in early 1989 but the appeal was dismissed. Later that year the High Court refused his application for special leave to appeal.

In 1991 Kalajzich made application to the Supreme Court for a judge to direct an inquiry but in 1992 the application was dismissed as “fantasy”, at which point radio broadcaster Alan Jones began lobbying for a fresh inquiry into Kalajzich’s conviction.

In April, 1993, Kalajzich was stabbed in Lithgow jail. In late 1993 a second application for an inquiry into Kalajzich’s conviction was granted, headed by Justice Slattery, but in May, 1995, the Slattery Report found there was “no doubt” about Kalajzich’s guilt.

In November, 1996, Kalajzich’s and Orrock’s sentences were reviewed under truth-in-sentencing legislation. Kalajzich was sentenced to 28 years with a non-parole period of 25 years, Orrock was released.

In 2005, in a bizarre effort to regain his freedom, Kalajzich offered to donate one of his kidneys “to give an opportunity to a person suffering from a life-threatening condition a chance of a new life” but the offer was rejected by then attorney-general Bob Debus. “Mr Kalajzich regularly writes to the minister’s office with interesting proposals,” a spokesman for the minister said. “As in the past, we are unable to give this proposal further consideration.”

In 2006, former chief inspector Bob Inkster, was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Having fallen from such a height and caused his family so much heartache, it remains to be seen if Kalajzich will attempt to re-enter day-to-day life in Manly following his release today.


Kalajzich to walk free from jail in a fortnight

By Lisa Davies -

January 26, 2012

TWENTY-SIX years ago today, Andrew and Megan Kalajzich presented as perfectly happy and normal people at an Australia Day function in Manly.

Both were in bed at their Fairlight home by 1am, but a short time later Megan was murdered, shot twice in the head as she slept.

More than a quarter-century later, the State Parole Authority yesterday announced Andrew would walk free on parole.

Now 71, he has served 25 years and one month jail for his wife's brazen killing - and continues to claim he is innocent of the crime.

His family were thrilled yesterday that he will be home around February 8. His now-adult children Andrew junior and Michelle have always maintained their father was innocent.

''They have always absolutely believed in him, and his innocence … if there was any doubt you would think [his children] would have it, but they never have,'' said family spokeswoman Pippa Kay.

A party to welcome Kalajzich home was on the cards, Ms Kay said, adding that on top of Kalajzich's priority list was to spend more time with his family.

''He is looking forward to being a proper father to his kids and a proper grandfather to his grandchildren,'' she said.

As to any renewed vigour to clear his name, Ms Kay said that path remained unclear.

The trial in 1987 heard that Kalajzich did not pull the trigger to kill his wife, but that the gunman was Franciscus Wilhelmus Vandenberg, armed with a cut-down .22 calibre rifle, and paid $20,000 to carry out the killing.

The Supreme Court jury convicted Kalajzich of murdering Megan, conspiring to murder her, and attempting to discharge a loaded firearm with intent to murder.

While in prison, a campaign supported by the broadcaster Alan Jones resulted in a judicial inquiry into his conviction in 1995, conducted by a retired Supreme Court judge, John Slattery, QC. But after a 117-day judicial review, Mr Slattery said the conviction should stand.

The Parole Authority's decision yesterday followed its stated intention late last year to release Kalajzich, and it had received no submissions against that view. ''Advice by the Serious Offenders Review Council found Kalajzich had … been described as a model inmate,'' it said in its decision.



Wife killer Andrew Kalajzich appeals for freedom

By Mark Morri - The Daily Telegraph

October 13, 2011

FORMER Sydney millionaire and convicted wife killer Andrew Kalajzich will today be the subject of a private NSW Parole Board hearing, which will decide if he will be set free before Christmas.

One of the richest men ever convicted of murder in Australia, Kalajzich has spent the past 25 years in jail for the shooting of his wife Megan in 1986.

He was sentenced to 28 years in prison in 1988 for hiring hitman Franciscus Bill Vandenberg to kill his wife in their seaside mansion at Fairlight, on Sydney's northern beaches.

The Croatian-born businessman has three years of his sentence to serve. His non-parole period ends on December 17.

Kalajzich claimed someone broke into the family home and shot his wife twice in the head as he lay sleeping next to her.

He told police he rolled off the bed a split second before a bullet thumped into his pillow.

Police didn't believe him and neither did a jury, which found him guilty of her murder.

Today is the first time Kalajzich's case has come before the parole board. He is currently being held in Silverwater jail.

A meeting of five board members will decide whether to recommend the 71-year-old be released a week before Christmas.

After today's meeting, a date for a public hearing will be set where Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham and other parties, such as the victim's family, can make submissions opposing or supporting his release. If the parole board decides not to release him, he will be informed and allowed to attend a further hearing and have a lawyer speak for him. He can also apply to the Supreme Court to appeal against the board's decision.

Before his jailing, Kalajzich was the unofficial king of Manly, owning the luxurious Manly Pacific Hotel and a number of restaurants in the area.

His once extensive land holdings on the northern peninsula, including a cottage at Church Point, have all gone.

The self-made millionaire has always protested his innocence and has used his many influential friends, including broadcaster Alan Jones, to campaign on his behalf, forcing a judicial inquiry into his conviction in 1995.

Retired Supreme Court judge John Slattery said he had no doubt of Kalajzich's guilt, citing his infatuation with his former secretary Marlene Watson as motive for the murder.

Giving evidence before the inquiry, Kalajzich said he was broke and had no resources to fight the legal system.



Kalajzich Chronology

Follow events in the Andrew Kalajzich case.

September 1973
Andrew Kalajzich, his wife Megan Kalajzich and their son are travelling in a car near their street when it runs off the road. They all survive.

11-12th January 1986
Megan Kalajzich is assaulted in her carport. Four more attempts on her life are made in the following 2 weeks.

27 January 1986
Megan Kalajzich is murdered at her Fairlight home.

1 February 1986
Megan Kalajzich's funeral.

14 February 1986
Andrew Kalajzich, Bill Vandenberg, Warren Elkins and Kerry Orrock are arrested. Kalajzich is charged with the murder of Megan Kalajzich and conspiracy to murder. Vandenberg is charged with the murder of, conspiracy to murder and feloniously assaulting Megan Kalajzich on 11 January 1986 with intent to murder. Mr Elkins and Mr Orrock are charged with conspiracy to murder Megan Kalajzich.

7 July 1986
Committal hearings begin for the four accused murderers including Andrew Kalajzich.

11 July 1986
Andrew Kalajzich's lover Marcellina Iurman gives details of their relationship and aborted wedding.

25 July 86
Andrew Kalajzich is discharged on all charges against him. Mr Elkins, Mr orrock and Mr Vandenberg are committed for trial.

17 December 1986
Mr Elkins is charged with conspiracy to murder Mr Vandenberg and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

18 December 1986
By order of the Attorney General, an ex-officio indicted is preferred against Andrew Kalajzich for the murder of Megan Kalajzich.

19 December 1986
Andrew Kalajzich is granted bail by the Supreme Court.

21 February 1987
The Attorney General grants Mr Elkins immunity from prosecution in relation to the charge of conspiracy to murder Mr Vandenberg and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice on the basis that he will actively co-operate and give truthful evidence for the prosecution against Andrew Kalajzich and others.

2 March 1987
Andrew Kalajzich is charged with conspiracy to murder Mr Vandenberg and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Bail is refused.

22 March 1987
The Attorney General orders a further ex-officio indictment to be presented against Andrew Kalajzich for conspiracy to murder and the attempted murder of Megan Kalajzich.

15 May 1987
Mr Elkins pleads guilty to the charge of conspiracy to murder. Mr Vandenberg pleads guilty to murder and conspiracy to murder and with an attempt to discharge a loaded gun at Megan Kalajzich with intent to murder.

22 May 1987
Mr Elkins is sentenced to penal servitude for ten years with a non-parole period of 5 years to date from 21 November 1986.

28 May 1987
Vandenberg is sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder and to concurrent term sentences in respect of the two other charges.

1 June 1987
Bill Vandenberg's committal hearing begins.

12 August 1987
Andrew Kalajzich is discharged in relation to the charge of conspiracy to murder Bill Vandenberg, but is committed for trial on the charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

19 October 1987
A further committal hearing relating to the death of Megan Kalajzich.

22 October 1987
Andrew Kalajzich and Kerry Orrock are committed for trial.

9 March 1988
Andrew Kalajzich and Kerry Orrock are jointly indicted on charges that they:
(i) between 1 January 1984 and 27 January 1986 they conspired with others to murder Megan Kalajzich;
(ii) on 11 January 1986 did attempt to discharge a loaded gun at Megan Kalajzich with intent to murder her;
(iii) on 27 January 1986 did murder Megan Kalajzich

March - May 1988
The trials of Andrew Kalajzich and Kerry Orrock take place.

25 May 1988
The jury finds both men guilty of the respective charges.

15 May 1988
Warren Elkins pleads guilty to conspiracy and is granted immunity for other charges.

22 May 1988
Warren Elkins is sentenced to 10 years jail for conspiracy to murder and says he will testify against Andrew Kalajzich.

27 May 1988
Justice Maxwell sentences Andrew Kalajzich to penal servitude for 14 years, 12 years and life imprisonment on the respective charges.
Kerry Orrock is sentenced to penal servitude for 12 years, 10 years and life imprisonment respectively on the same charges.
Bill Vandenberg is sentenced to life in prison.

May 1988
Bill Vandenberg commits suicide in prison.

December 1988
The Coroner's Inquest into Bill Vandenberg's suicide begins.

6 February 1989
Andrew Kalajzich's appeal begins in front of Justice Yeldham.

13 April 1989
Andrew Kalajzich's and Kerry Orrock's appeals are dismissed.

12 June 1989
Andrew Kalajzich writes to Alan Jones requesting his assistance to correct an injustice perpetrated against him and his family. He appeals to him to "lend whatever support you feel you are able to our mutual friend Thomas, who will be speaking with you in regard to my future plans". Soon after Alan Jones and his researcher Tim Barton go to see Andrew Kalajzich in jail.

July 1989
Andrew Kalajzich hires Tim Barton to work on his case and they see each other regularly until early 1991.

8 November 1989
The High Court of Australia refuses Andrew Kalajzich's application for special leave to appeal.

25 January 1990
The Director of Public Prosecutions advises Andrew Kalajzich that he is not proceeding with the charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

5 December 1991
Andrew Kalajzich makes an application to the Supreme Court for a Judge to direct an inquiry. Mr Justice Grove is assigned to determine the application.

18 September 1992
Justice Grove dismisses the Application for Inquiry as "fantasy" and "far reaching" and declines to direct an inquiry into Andrew Kalajzich's convictions.

21 September 1992
On 2UE Alan Jones begins talking about the Andrew Kalajzich case on radio. He makes reference to Justice Grove's dismissal of Kalajzich's submission saying that "the detailed research and evidence in this submission are as staggering as it's conclusions are disturbing, yet last Friday it was thrown out of Court by Mr Justice Grove who at various points in the course of his Judgment described it as quote almost farcical, outrageous, irrational, sensational and speculative. Grove said he hesitated to use the word quote fantasise unquote. Though it quote may well be appropriate. I'll be having more to say about Mr Justice Grove later in the week. He also presided over the Tim Anderson affair in which he got that wrong. I wonder has Mr Justice Grove read or understood all the submission and how he came to those conclusions or we're not meant to comment about things, is Mr Justice Grove removed from criticism."

20 October 1992
On 2UE Alan Jones returns to the "twelve hundred page submission on behalf of Andrew Kalajzich which was unceremoniously thrown out of the NSW Supreme Court some weeks ago by Mr Justice Grove." He also talks about "police incompetence in the scene of the crime".

21 October 1992
Alan Jones talks about the Andrew Kalajzich case on 2UE: "For a number of weeks now I've spoken on a daily basis about disturbing evidence raised in the twelve hundred page submission on behalf of Andrew Kalajzich which was thrown out of the Supreme Court by Mr Justice Grove and possibly despite all that's been ventilated, some of it for the first time, possibly there are still those who might ask why I would bother to examine a case which has exhausted every legal avenue available and failed."
He also states; "This issue can't be allowed to die. We're all threatened if those institutions to which we abdicate so much individual power are allowed to treat even one of us unfairly. The NSW system of justice cannot be allowed to arrogantly discard a submission of the depth and substance of what I have seen. A submission seeking no more than a re-examination of the facts but the sort of extravagant language employed by Mr Justice Grove and we simply cannot excuse errors of fact within so-called judgments on which lives of people literally hang."

22 October 1992
Alan Jones continues to comment on the Kalajzich case, saying "it is must larger than the man Kalazjich. It goes to the very heart of our system of the administration of justice."

3 December 1992
A petition is presented to the Governor of New South Wales seeking an inquiry.

April 1993
Andrew Kalajzich is stabbed in Lithgow Prison.
NSW Attorney General John Hannaford instructs the Solicitor General to see if the case should be reviewed.

13 April 1993
Alan Jones comments on the stabbing of Andrew Kalajzich and says; "my programme ran a long and detailed documentation on why the Kalajzich affair should be reopened last year. I ran that for two weeks and why I arranged there was serious doubt, very serious doubt about Mr Kalajzich's guilt about why things that should have been presented at the Kalajzich trial weren't. Well for now I simply ask this. Why would Kalajzich be stabbed? … Is Kalajzich a risk? If the appeal process is reopened and the case is reopened are certain people at risk? And is the system being used to prevent that risk from materialising? "

14 April 1993
Alan Jones talks in detail about the Andrew Kalajzich case and interviews Kalajzich's son-in-law who says "we're not asking anybody, the Attorney General to judge his innocence or guilt, we're not asking. All we're asking is to lay it on the table at an Inquiry and lets just have a fair hearing of this new evidence that we've introduced."

September 1993
The second Application before Governor of NSW for Inquiry succeeds when the NSW Solicitor general overrules Justice Grove's ruling and recommends that the case be reviewed.

November 1993 - November 1994
Inquiry into Kalajzich's murder conviction which is headed by Justice Slattery.

December 1993
George Canellis and Warren Elkins attempt to stay the Inquiry because of lack of legal aid (Procedural Fairness) fails.

1 December 1994
Alan Jones responds on-air to an article in the Daily Telegraph that links him to the Andrew Kalajzich inquiry. Jones says; "the Telegraph Mirror story today has written and the wire service story says that friends of Kalajzich has quote used Broadcaster Alan Jones in their campaign to over turn the millionaire's murder conviction unquote… The fact is I know of no such group and I've never had discussions with anybody associated with the Kalajzich defence in relation to anything I've said on air other than to authenticate information… The point is that I and I alone decide what I say on air, the wire service report refers to a Mr Tim Barton and describes him as the head of Kalajzich's support group. I mean this is laughable. Mr Barton has never been head of any support group. He was previously a legal researcher on the Kalajzich case but since 1992 Mr Barton has been a member of my staff… Mr Barton does extensive research for me and like all my staff has my full confidence… The wire service story clearly implies that I was a mouth piece for somebody. Such a comment I don't think even by my critics could be taken seriously."

20 May 1995
The Slattery Report concludes that from the evidence and the material presented to the Inquiry, there is "no doubt" about the guilt of Andrew Kalajzich.

September-October 1995
Diamond and Richards are acquitted of the stabbing/murder attempt on Kalajzich at Lithgow Prison.

November 1996
Andrew Kalajzich and Kerry Orrock's Sentence Review. Kalajzich is sentenced to 28 (min. 25) years; Orrock is released on the condition he gives evidence against Kalajzich in further charge of conspiracy to pervert justice. This charge eventually dismissed.

October 1998
The appeal against the sentence for Kalajzich fails.


Andrew Kalajzich: The man who wanted more

By Malcolm Brown - The Sydney Morning Herald

May 28, 1988

IT WAS a year since Andrew Kalajzich had reached one of the brightest pinnacles of his career - having been appointed by the then Premier, Mr Wran, as one of the inaugural Tourism Commissioners for NSW.

It was three years since Andrew Kalajzich had achieved his dream of running an international hotel on the Manly waterfront when, in December 1982, the Manly Pacific International Hotel had been opened by Mr Wran.

And it was only hours after Andrew and Megan Kalajzich had been to an Australia Day function in Manly.

He was the lion of Manly, the fishmonger's son made good, and she the smiling, attractive wife who supported his every move.

Some short time after 1 am on the morning of January 27, 1986, Franciscus Wilhelmus Vandenberg, former grocer, foundry worker, hotelier, arrived at a ground-level side door at No 31 Fairlight Crescent, Fairlight. He was armed with a cut-down .22 calibre rifle.

Taking off his shoes, Vandenberg pushed gently and the door opened. He entered a rumpus room, took care not to step in a puddle of water caused by faulty plumbing and climbed a wooden staircase.

At the top, he turned into the open door of the master bedroom, seeing in the gloom the silent, prone figures of Megan and Andrew Kalajzich beside each other on the queen-size bed.

He might have heard the clinking of yacht masts riding serenely in the water below or the noise of the ocean outside the Heads, directly in line with the balcony, and the sliding glass door from the master bedroom that opened on to it.

The only other noise came from the radio which had been left on. Elsewhere in the house, Kalajzich's son, Andrew jun, 21, and mother-in-law May Carmichael were asleep.

Vandenberg walked into the space between the bed and the built-in wardrobe. His eyes, weak as they were, became accustomed to the darkness.

Andrew and Megan Kalajzich had not been in bed for long, Megan Kalajzich at about 12.50, her husband after hearing the 1 am pips on the bedside clock radio. Megan apparently had gone straight to sleep.

The 50 centimetres of the rifle, with its 20 cm silencer, gave him little room to move. The muzzle was a matter of 10 cms from the Megan Kalajzich's head. He pulled the trigger, twice.

The noise rebounded off the walls. Blood spurted from Megan Kalajzich's head as her eyes opened in horror and her mouth gasped. Kalajzich immediately rolled off the bed. Vandenberg shot twice at the space where his head had been.

With Kalajzich on the floor, Vandenberg turned, went back out the bedroom door and escaped.

Kalajzich saw the gaping face of his wife. On his account later to police, he grabbed his pillow to staunch the flow of blood, although police evidence later showed the pillow was not moved.

Kalajzich ran down the steps to the door, ostensibly to check whether the murderer was still inside the house. He returned. Megan Kalajzich was mortally wounded. Kalajzich dialled his hotel, the Manly Pacific International, asking for help, then rang an emergency telephone number.

The Kalajzich dream was shattered. The man who was often held up as the penultimate example of what a newcomer to this country could achieve was to struggle on for more than two years in the half-light of uncertainty.

It ended this week when the NSW Supreme Court found him guilty of his wife's murder.

There always was an element of instability in Kalajzich. A complex, able man, who had the drive and vision - and the ruthlessness - to rise above his humble origins, he could never, even at the height of his success, dispel the darker suggestions about his life and activities.

His glittering image never quite married the reality some businessmen saw -of a mean, vindictive manipulator who turned everything he touched to his own advantage, and used anything, including politicians, to further his goals.

He was the man who had "put Manly on the map", bringing an international hotel where fellow businessmen were still running shops. But he managed to antagonise local commerce to the point of rebellion.

Megan, whom nobody ever spoke poorly of, fell in with anything he aspired to. She would have made most men happy.

He had extensive psychiatric treatment over problems that quite clearly involved his marriage and his wife. She stayed with him when other women might well have gone.

But Kalajzich on at least two occasions found other women more attractive -enough, it seemed, to overcome the combined influences of psychiatry and marital support.

He misled one of them into thinking he was going to marry her. And before the murder, a purple, scented letter from a correspondent, never publicly revealed, turned up at his door.

Kalajzich lived in a harbourside home with one of the most breathtaking outlooks in Sydney. From his early 30s he rose commercially and socially. But he managed, 15 years ago, to drive the family car over a cliff with his wife and son inside.

Despite everything that life had to offer him, and despite being admired, even adored by many, he conceived the idea of having his wife murdered.

The saga began in 1939, when Andrew Kalajzich's father, Andrew sen, and mother, Olga, migrated to Australia from Yugoslavia with their first-born, Tony.

The second youngest of 11 children in a family of winegrowers, Andrew sen had decided to join two brothers who had already come to Australia. He arrived penniless, and went into the fish shop business.

Andrew Kalajzich was born in the Crown Street Women's Hospital in 1941. A sister, Olga, was born subsequently. The family, still in the fish trade, moved to Chatswood.

Young Andrew was drawn quickly into business. In an interview he gave years later, he said: "Many an afternoon was spent cleaning potatoes, working alongside my parents."

In the late 1940s, the family moved again, to Palm Beach, then in 1955 to The Corso, Manly, where they opened a shop, Ocean Foods.

Ocean Foods, which changed location to bring it closer to the promenade, was a success. It is still there today.

Andrew Kalajzich was married in 1962 to a dental nurse, Megan Carmichael, only daughter of Mrs May Carmichael. They had a daughter, Michelle, and a son, Andrew jun.

By 1966, when he was 25, Andrew Kalajzich and his brother opened a seafood restaurant, K's Snapper Inn, in South Steyne, Manly.

The family bought several other shops and upstairs offices in the corner of The Corso and South Steyne, a shrewd and profitable move, according to a local real estate agent.

Ocean Foods and K's Snapper Inn boomed. Megan worked as a hostess in the restaurant.

Kalajzich had big ideas. He saw in Manly, situated between the Harbour and ocean, far more potential than had ever been accorded it. He had ideas about development of the ocean front, the Corso and tourism.

But sadly, according to evidence that came out years later in the Coroner's Inquest into Megan Kalajzich's death, there was another element in his life.

According to the evidence, he became infatuated with one Marcellina Iurman, a Yugoslav girl from South America, who worked weekends in Ocean Foods.

In 1973, aged 32, Kalajzich was elected president of the Manly Chamber of Commerce and set about revitalising the area.

The family moved into the beautiful, multi-storeyed harbourside home in Fairlight. But his private life continued to slide.

Kalajzich and Miss Iurman, according to evidence at the Coroner's inquest into Megan Kalajzich's death, continued their relationship. She had gone back to South America for a year to get away from it.

"Miss Iurman gave evidence in the inquest about her relationship with Kalajzich," said Detective-Sergeant Bob Inkster, of Manly Police, who handled the murder investigation.

"She gave evidence that she went back to Brazil because she could see that her relationship with him was bound for doom and could not be because he was a married man.

"It did not come out that she was acting as a woman scorned. Her honesty in the witness box impressed everyone."

Miss Iurman returned to Australia in September, 1973. Three days later, a most astonishing thing happened.

In Commonwealth Parade, near his home, the road moved along the edge of a 10-metre drop on to rock shelves and the harbour. It is easily negotiated by drivers who regularly use the road.

On September 9, driving his wife and son along Commonwealth Parade towards Fairlight, Kalajzich, on the account he gave to police, felt sick.

Instead of stopping the car and putting on the hand-brake, he jumped out the driver's door and left the car in motion. The car careered over the embankment, bounced down the cliff-front and landed on rocks.

Sergeant Inkster said the car, had it not followed the curvature of the road, could have landed in water. Megan and Andrew jun were uninjured.

A Manly police constable attended the accident and drove Megan and Andrew jun home. He said Kalajzich had been taken to hospital by ambulance, suffering from shock.

He also said Mrs Kalajzich had told him the couple were "experiencing difficulties".

Sergeant Inkster said: "It was treated at the time as a traffic accident. But following that Mrs Carmichael was asked by Megan to move in with them. It was blatantly obvious Megan Kalajzich was a dependent person."

That month, Kalajzich began consultations with a Mosman psychiatrist, Dr Donald Hill. Kalajzich told him about the car accident, saying his head hurt when he thought about it.

The treatment was to last for five years and Dr Hill said in later evidence that it appeared Kalajzich was resolving his problems. Whatever benefits Kalajzich was getting, they did not resolve his problem over how he felt for Miss Iurman.

According to evidence in the Coroner's Court, Miss Iurman said that in 1974 Kalajzich had led her to believe that he had divorced Megan and was "a free man".

She said that in 1975 or 1976 - she could not remember which year -Kalajzich had proposed to her and she suggested they buy a ring and Kalajzich bought one. She had asked him to have his name engraved on it.

One day, he had told her they would be married the next day at the Boulevard Hotel. She had obtained official forms for the wedding, signed them and given them to Kalajzich, along with her passport.

But he had failed to turn up to collect her. He returned the passport. She never saw the ring again.

Kalajzich saw Dr Hill until 1978. Megan Kalajzich saw him on a couple of occasions.

In the meantime, Kalajzich's public life was prospering. Re-elected president of the Chamber of Commerce year after year, he had the firm support of two vice-presidents, newsagent John Humphrey and lawyer Brian Symons.

The chamber set up a Tourist Promotion Committee which Kalajzich chaired. Manly Council became involved. The committee came to comprise three representatives of the council and three from the chamber, with Kalajzich as chairman.

Andrew and Tony Kalajzich decided to redevelop the site of an existing hotel, the Manly Pacific, into something which was in the international class. They felt the idea was a good one. No other such hotel in Sydney took advantage of Sydney's magnificent beach frontages.

The Kalajzichs, who had already committed themselves, approached the State Bank, which backed the venture. Development started in November, 1980.

The result, valued at $16 million, was the Manly Pacific International Hotel, consisting of 14 storeys, 180 rooms, four restaurants and bars, a nightclub, and initially 250 employees.

It was a triumph of foresight, determination, enterprise: good enough for the State Bank in its 1983/84 annual report to feature on its front cover.

Kalajzich was on the crest of a wave. "It was a huge gamble to build a hotel here and I don't think I was fully aware how difficult it would be," he said at the time.

Kalajzich drove a Mercedes and traded it in for a Jaguar. He was pictured with State politicians, including ministers.

The children had a good Catholic education. Andrew jun went to St Augustine's College. Michelle went to a local Catholic college.

Charitable events such as dinner dances and annual Melbourne Cup functions were held at the Manly Pacific with money going to, for example, the Manly Youth Centre or a senior citizens' association.

Megan Kalajzich fitted in with grace and dignity. A pretty brunette, stylish and well-groomed, she took part in social and charitable occasions.

A friend of the family said: "She was a gentle, ladylike person. Never heard her say a nasty word about anyone. Everyone had complimentary remarks about her. But she certainly was no socialite. She was not at all pushy."

But privately, there was more trouble. In 1982, Miss Iurman reappeared and, according to evidence at the original committal proceedings against Kalajzich, the two had sexual intercourse on a number of occasions.

According to Paul Dracakis, a former member of the Manly Chamber of Commerce, a vindictiveness and meanness which Kalajzich demonstrated in his business life was reflected in his private life.

He said: "Kalajzich was ambitious and all Megan wanted was a family life. They were going two different ways."

There were also rumblings of discontent in the business community about how far and how fast he was moving, and about a presumptuousness and arrogance in his personal style which had not been apparent in his earlier, and humbler, days.

A Balgowlah real estate agent and former member of the Manly Chamber of Commerce told the Herald that Kalajzich, if brimming with goodwill at charity and community events, was quite different when crossed.

"Andrew changed when he went to the pub," the agent said. "I was chairman of the membership committee of the Chamber of Commerce but I would ring him up and he would never ring me back. I think he was a little man in a big job. When I started to criticise him at the meeting he started to rant and rave."

Dracakis, acknowledged as Kalajzich's bitterest critic, had no hesitation in condemning him.

"He intimidated a number of people," he said. "He intimidated anyone who spoke against him. He was pushing too hard and he was not consulting the business community. He was riding over the wishes of small business.

"On one occasion, when a businessman was going to speak against him at the Chamber of Commerce, he had a group of heavies sitting in the public gallery.

"With one of the bakers, he threatened to cut off the orders for him supplying bread to his hotel if the baker did not do what he wanted to do.

"Everything was for himself. He was right in with the council and he had some powerful political friends. Kalajzich had people licking his boots. He would give people who were powerful free meals and tickets to places."

Lionel Bray, pharmacist and present secretary of the Manly Chamber of Commerce, said: "He was the big businessman. The hotel was going to be the saviour of Manly. But we are all small businessmen. They got to the point where they could not stomach him and the way he was going."

Few would deny Kalajzich's term in office brought benefits.

Neil Pickup, manager of the Manly Travel Centre on Manly Wharf, said: "The job he did for Manly was fantastic. He had enough guts to invest in Manly when a lot of people were not investing in Manly."

The present president of the Manly Chamber of Commerce, Mr Cooper Wright, said: "Andrew Kalajzich initiated the promotion of Manly. He saw potential way back 10 or 12 years ago."

Despite this, by 1983 resentment in the business community was ready to boil over. Moves were made to depose him as president.

It was mooted at the chamber that proxy votes would be taken from businessmen who did not want to or could not attend the meeting where the positions of president and vice-presidents would be decided.

Kalajzich initially rejected the idea of having proxy votes counted. The Manly Daily, which was represented on the chamber, paid for a legal opinion that proxy votes in these circumstances were valid.

The Balgowlah real estate agent said: "The feeling against him was very bad. It was so bad that at the election they just swept the three of them off the top.

"I got 15 proxies and Paul Dracakis got 40. People just said: 'What do you want us to do?' They were fed up with the way things were going."

Mr Dracakis said: "I was there to get rid of him. There were 139 votes in the ballot and he only got 29 of them."

The deposing of Andrew Kalajich, together with Mr Humphrey and Mr Symons, was traumatic for some of Kalajzich's supporters.

The estate agent said: "Andrew Kalajzich's words to the chamber were: 'Is this all I get?'"

In retrospect, the troubles even then did not stop with Kalajzich's failure to hold his position in the chamber.

In November, 1984, Tony Kalajzich pulled out of his Manly Pacific International partnership with his brother for reasons still not clear.

He told the Herald that, since the murder, the family had declined to make public comment.

Pat Pedula, former treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce under Andrew Kalajzich's presidency, said there was pressure on Kalajzich to return to a more moderate lifestyle.

He said: "Andrew Kalajzich put so much time into community activity that the family got fed up with it and said: 'Come back to us.'"

In January, 1985, the then Minister for Sport and Tourism, Mr Cleary, confirmed Kalajzich as one of seven commissioners on the newly-formed NSW Tourism Commission.

He was appointed for a two-year term. In an interview at the time, Kalajzich said: "In effect, we will run tourism in New South Wales."

In his position of power and influence, Andrew Kalajzich might have seen his wife as being too homely, not exciting enough.

A relationship is alleged to have developed between Kalajzich and his secretary and executive assistant at the hotel, Marlene Watson.

Mark Blackmore, managing director of Blackmore Laboratories, a health products company at Balgowlah, said too much had been made of the relationship.

He said: "Marlene Watson was married to a man who had become a paraplegic as a result of a car accident. She pushed him round for years and years.

"I did not see any evidence that she was thick with Andrew. They were supposed to be out somewhere dancing cheek to cheek. I happened to be present one night when they were together at a function and I can tell you that that is a load of rubbish.

"Whether she was romantically involved I don't know. If she got romantically involved it was after he was in jail."

After Kalajzich had been remanded in custody last year, police were told of an attempt by a business contact of Kalajzich to smuggle a letter to him without the letter going through the normal system.

Sergeant Inkster said: "It was a letter by Marlene Watson. It was a lengthy letter of endearment. The following day I went to her unit and she surrendered her typewriter. We were able to prove the letter came from that typewriter."

The relationship became an issue at the trial, although Ms Watson, according to Sergeant Inkster, indicated she would not be a co-operative witness. She was was not called to give evidence.

The Herald, having a look at the Kalajzich's former home in Fairlight, met a woman living nearby who said that before the murder she had received mail for Kalajzich mistakenly put into her letterbox.

"The letter was scented," she said. "It was a purple envelope."

"I took it up and I met the mother-in-law. I said: 'Are you Mrs Kalajzich?'She said: 'No, I am not'.

"I said: 'This letter has come for him'. She said: 'Oh, I don't know where they are. He just comes and goes, you know.'"

On January 11, 1986, Megan Kalajzich had just returned home to 31 Fairlight Crescent, put her car into the lockup garage at street level above her home when a man hooded with a balaclava approached and put a rifle to her head.

The rifle failed to discharge. The gunman struck her on the back of the head with the rifle and she fell down a flight of steps.

Sergeant Inkster, then acting Divisional Detective-Sergeant at Manly, gave the investigation to two detectives.

"The two I had assigned to the case had great difficulty in getting in touch with Andrew Kalajzich. They told me they had left messages for him and spoken with his wife. She was quite amazed as to why he had not got in touch with us.

"I left the assault matter in the hands of the two men. We could not take it any further. He seemed to show a disinterest in the thing. You can now see why. I would have expected him to have come to me to have questioned me what I had done about it."

On the Australia Day, 1986, function at Manly, which Andrew and Megan Kalajzich attended, there were as always different perceptions of them.

Paul Dracakis said: "Andrew did not spend more than five minutes with her. When the function ended, she left with the Humphreys, not with Andrew."

A politician's wife said: "On Australia Day, 1986, the Kalajzichs were a perfectly happy and normal couple."

But the signs of recent trauma were still apparent for those who scrutinise d Megan Kalajzich more closely.

She had the bruises from the January 11 assault on the back of her neck. A friend said: "Megan showed signs of being afraid. She had wanted to know what the attacker wanted."

The Kalajzichs went that evening to their weekender at Cottage Point, in the Pittwater area, to spend several hours with John and Jeanette Humphrey.

They returned to Fairlight about 11pm, where they watched television for a time. Megan retired to bed, followed by her husband. Soon after, Megan Kalajzich's life ended.

The house at 31 Fairlight Crescent was vacated by Andrew Kalajzich and his surviving family after the murder. It was sold in July, 1986, to a couple who had come from the country.

Last year, following Andrew Kalajzich's arrest for the murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to murder his wife, the Manly Pacific International Hotel was sold to a syndicate of Chinese businessmen.

Bookmaker Bruce McHugh, through his property investment company, last year bought Sea Foods in The Corso and K's Snapper Inn in South Steyne.

Members of the Kalajzich family continue to live in the area.

Kalajzich was incarcerated last year after his bail was revoked and was brought each day from the Metropolitan Remand Centre, Long Bay, to the NSW Supreme Court, Taylor Square.

Slimmer than in his heyday, he pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

During a tedious 11-week trial, Kalajzich sat in the dock listening intently, taking notes, rarely looking at the co-accused, Kerry Orrock, beside him.

Behind sat an apparently loyal row of family and friends. They included his son-in-law, Jim Economides, daughter Michelle, Tony Kalajzich and Joan Thorburn. Kalajzich's solicitor, Mr John Webb, a long-time professional and business associate, sat at the bar table.

Andrew jun, 21, a Crown witness in the first days of the trial, did not reappear until the closing address for his father.

Kalajzich's aged parents, Andrew sen and Olga, remained away until the closing stages.

What thoughts they all had might never be known. Probably they all hoped the nightmare would end somehow. In their heart of hearts, they might all have asked just one question: "Why did it have to happen?"



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