IT was an horrific murder of a Lake Macquarie couple that remains unsolved nearly nine years after they were killed.
With the coronial inquest into the murders of Robert Pashkuss, 50, and Stacey McMaugh, 41, at Caves Beach to reconvene in Newcastle on Thursday, the state government has announced an increase of the reward for information relating to the 2008 murders to $250,000.
The couple were bludgeoned to death in their Macquarie Road home between 10.10pm on January 5, 2008 and 11am the following day.
A coronial inquest has already heard Mr Pashkuss’ murder was more than likely related to his drug dealing activities, while his partner, a lauded community volunteer, was an “innocent bystander”, who may have been murdered because she could identify her killers.
A reward of $100,000 was announced in 2009 after Strike Force Chuter detectives could not break open the case – a task made more difficult because of suggestions that bikies could be involved.
“The families of Mr Pashkuss and Ms McMaugh have been suffering for almost a decade, and their families deserve to see their killers brought to justice,” Police and Justice minister Troy Grant said in a statement.
“Detectives are continuing to pursue the answers and doing everything they can to put those involved before the court.
“We hope this increased reward of $250,000 might result in a breakthrough and help detectives put the final pieces in the puzzle.’’
Strike Force Chuter commander Detective Chief Inspector Mark Newham welcomed the increase of the reward.
“We have been working tirelessly to solve this case, and hoping the information from the coronial inquest may refresh someone’s memory of the events of that night,” he said.
“And we know there are people who know what happened to Mr Pashkuss and Ms McMaugh, so an increase of the reward to $250,000 might be the motivation for them to get in touch with us.
“The team is committed to getting to the bottom of this case and bringing those responsible to justice.
“But we won’t be able to do it without assistance from the public.
“If you have any information that may help us find and catch the people responsible for their death, please do the right thing and call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.’’
Strike Force Chuter detectives have reminded any person with information about the case that it was not too late to contact police.
The reward is available for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the murders of Mr Pashkuss and Ms McMaugh.