Murderous Denials

01.06.2010

tags: Murder, Homicide, NSW Police Force, NSW, Albion Park,

discussion: 0 comments

By Vikki Petraitis
APJ Issue - June 2010 (Vol. 64, No. 2), pp.52-63.

Early in the morning of Wednesday, 13 March 1996, Steve Bailey was talking to a friend in Shearwater Boulevard at Albion Park Rail – an outer suburb of Wollongong in New South Wales. Suddenly his 18-year-old neighbour, Matthew De Gruchy, came running out of his house in a very distressed state. He ran straight towards the two men, yelling: “Come quick. Something’s happened to Mum and Sarah!”

Steve followed the young man back into the house and then into a bedroom, which was to the left as they walked through the front entrance. In the few seconds he remained in the bedroom, he could see that Jenny De Gruchy (Matthew’s mother) had been savagely bashed by someone as she lay in bed. It was a horrific and disturbing scene and, as the poor woman was obviously dead, he turned on his heels and ran back outside with only one thought in mind – call the police.

Detective Sergeant Danny Sharkey was on duty that day. He was in charge of a crew of eight detectives covering the Albion Park Rail area. He and a colleague Ron Smith, together with two other detectives, drove to the house in Shearwater Boulevard.

Crime Scene

As Sharkey pulled up near the De Gruchy house he could see an ambulance parked on the road outside, and a young man doubled up on the lawn with an older man attending him. Sharkey then spoke to Steve Bailey who told him what had happened.

At a crime scene, the fewer people that enter the area the better. But Danny Sharkey had to first ensure that there was, in fact, a body inside. After getting directions from Bailey, he made his way into the front bedroom. A woman lay on a double bed under the covers. Her head was such a bloodied mess that Sharkey thought she might have been shot. The neighbour also said that Matthew De Gruchy had told him that there was something wrong with both his mother and his 13-year-old sister, Sarah. So, armed with that information, Detective Sharkey thought it prudent to check the young girl’s bedroom. There he found Sarah lying dead on her bed. She too had received severe head injuries. Oddly, considering their injuries, there wasn’t much blood around the beds of either victim. Over Sarah’s head lay a blood-smeared cushion that had been taken from a chair in another room. It looked like the killer had placed the cushion over the girl before the attack, thus keeping blood spatter to a minimum. It was suspected that this cushion might also have been used to cover the mother. Sharkey and his team did a quick walk through the house to ensure that there weren’t any further victims or, for that matter, strangers lurking about. They didn’t touch anything and left the house immediately to call in the crime scene experts. Whilst making a list of eliminations (for the physical evidence experts), Detective Sharkey calculated that, apart from the killer, it was only young Matthew, Steve Bailey and his police team who had entered the building. This of course meant that the integrity of the crime scene hadn’t been tainted any more than was absolutely necessary ...

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