February 21, 2002
Approximately 10pm – Security guard Slawek Tomczyk phones his boss, Sandy Sempel, from the Casablanca Reception Centre in Cranbourne, Melbourne, saying he has a flat tyre. It appears as though somebody has punctured it.
A man walking his dog sees Slawek Tomczyk changing the tyre and asks if he needs any help. He says no.
A short time later, Slawek is beaten to death and hogtied. His body is dragged to the back of the reception centre and left near the garbage bins.
February 22, 2002
12:20 am – Sandy Sempel learns that Slawek did not turn up to do a routine check at a fast food restaurant on his rounds. Sandy is concerned and decides to look for his guard.
Sandy Sempel arrives at the Casablanca Reception Centre to discover Slawek has been murdered.
3.00 am – Ron Iddles is called out to the reception centre to investigate.
8.00 am – A man calls police nominating Tomczyk’s killer. He says the suspect is at the Cranbourne Dump. Police go to the dump and speak to the man but do not corroborate his alibi.
A used car salesman tells police that a few days after the murder, he overheard a group of men talking about the security guard’s murder. He says one of the men was named Peter Samuel Smith – and that he had come back a few weeks later to test-drive a car. The salesman says Smith’s name is in the sign-out book, which he faxes to police.
Ron and his team investigate the car saleman’s story and find circumstantial evidence against Peter Smith, including rope similar to that used to tie up Slawek Tomczyk.
The investigation continues.
June 6, 2002
Peter Smith is arrested and charged with the murder of Slawek Tomczyk.
Smith vehemently denies involvement and Ron wonders if he has arrested the wrong man.
After almost a year in custody, Peter Smith is exonerated after Ron discovers the dates in the caryard’s sign-out book had been altered and that Smith had not been at the caryard talking about the murder.
Ron also has the rope used to tie Slawek’s wrists compared to rope found in Peter Smith’s home: they are not a match.
At an inquest into the death of Slawek Tomczyk, Ron testifies that Peter Smith was not responsible for the murder.
Coroner Peter White praises Ron for acting ‘in the best traditions of the force.’
Ron and Peter Smith shake hands on the courthouse steps.