Murder charge dropped in Victorian cold case

Manny Conditsis, Senior Trial Advocate and Accredited Specialist in Criminal Law, assisted by Kayla Nielsen lawyer, achieved another extraordinary result in the Victorian cold case murder charge of Peter Wetzler.

In September 2023, Mr Wetzler was arrested at his Newcastle home and charged with the murder of Debra Campbell, who disappeared in February 1982. Mr Wetzler and Ms Campbell were then engaged to be married. Police alleged that she is deceased but there is no body and no evidence as to how she may have been killed. In 1998 the Melbourne Coroner’s Court found that Ms Campbell was likely deceased but that there was no known cause of death.

Manny Conditsis successfully fought Mr Wetzler’s custodial extradition to Melbourne, but according to Victorian law, on presenting himself to a Melbourne Court for the murder charge, he was immediately taken into custody as only the Supreme Court can grant bail on a murder charge.

One month later, on 18 October 2023, Manny Conditsis appeared before Justice Champion, a former Director of the Victorian DPP and successfully applied for bail for Mr Wetzler. Mr Wetzler was released from custody on that day.

In January this year Manny Conditsis, assisted by Ms Nielsen, submitted a detailed Request for the murder charge to be withdrawn, arguing the Crown Case was weak and that it was foredoomed to failure.

After considering the detailed Request, on 3 April 2023 in Melbourne Magistrate’s Court, the DPP formally withdrew the murder charge against Mr Wetzler.

Manny Conditsis informed the Court that he sought an order for costs against the Victorian Chief Commissioner of Police and the DPP advised it would not oppose an order for costs but sought a three months stay of that order to enable the Chief Commissioner of Police to negotiate the quantum of the costs order.

Michelle Bromfield and her team at Conditsis Lawyers will now turn their attention to furthering the proceedings instituted in November 2023 in the NSW Fair Work Commission against the ATO, for the alleged unfair dismissal of Mr Wetzler from his employment with the ATO after more than 18 years of service.

The story was featured on 9 News on Wednesday 3rd April – click here to view the story.

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