TWO men due to give evidence on Thursday at an inquest into a 2008 double murder at Caves Beach have died and a third cannot be located, Newcastle Coroner’s Court has heard.
It was a frustrating setback in the nearly nine-year investigation into the brutal murders of drug dealer Robert Pashkuss, 51, and his 41-year-old partner Stacey McMaugh, who were bludgeoned to death inside their Macquarie Grove home sometime between 10.10pm on January 5, 2008 and 11am the following day.
But a breakthrough in the case could be imminent, with the inquest hearing that someone had repeatedly called Crime Stoppers with information that appeared to be of “significant relevance”.
However, due to the strict confidentiality associated with that service, their details could not be passed onto investigating detectives.
Counsel assisting Peggy Dwyer and lead-investigator Inspector Anthony Agnew urged that person to call Maroubra police station, where Inspector Agnew is currently stationed, on 9349 9299 and speak to him personally.
The revelations came on the day the NSW Government announced it had more than doubled the reward for information relating to the murders to $250,000, a development praised by Mr Dillon.
But sadly, Ms McMaugh’s mother, Doris McMaugh, will never know who murdered her daughter or see them brought to justice.
Doris, who had attended the inquest as recently as July, died on October 10 after complications from an operation. She was 80.
Ms Dwyer told Mr Dillon the inquest was to hear from three witnesses on Thurday, but inquiries had revealed two of the men had died.
One – Mark “Legman” Armstrong – who Mr Dillon lamented was a “person of interest” who likely had useful information, just two weeks ago, while Stephen Clarke had died in 2013, the inquest heard.
A third man – Mark Whittaker – could not be located by detectives.
After a four-day coronial inquest, Mr Dillon concluded there was insufficient evidence to identify a suspect or refer the matter to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
He delivered his formal findings, ruling that Mr Pashkuss and Ms McMaugh both died due to head injuries inflicted with a blunt instrument by a person or persons who the evidence was insufficient to identify.