Akop Kishmishian

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Love, threats and a murder mystery

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia)
December 20, 2004 Monday

He was found bashed on the footpath. His van's engine was still running. Was the motive road rage, debt or retribution? ANGELA KAMPER reports

IT is a mystery that has perplexed a coroner while giving a curious insight into a slice of Sydney.

Akop Kishmishian, a 20-year-old refugee from Georgia, was bashed with a steering-wheel lock in Liverpool St, Cabramatta, during the early hours of April 19, 2001. He died from head injuries in hospital three weeks later.

In the months leading up to his death, Mr Kishmishian ended a brief relationship with Russian- born Anna Musicco.

The 28-year-old waitress met him through friends and dated him while still sharing a Cabramatta apartment with her husband, Stephen Musicco.

Her parents had allegedly paid Mr Musicco $20,000 to marry their daughter so that she could legally live in Australia.

For Mrs Musicco the affair she had with Mr Kishmishian "wasn't really a relationship, it was just casual sex," she told Westmead Coroners Court last week, but for the Armenian national it was much more.

He had allegedly followed her and phoned her repeatedly after the break up.

In March 2001 he burst through the front door of a Kirribilli apartment she was staying in looking for her.

That day Mr Kishmishian, a cleaner, was with his business partner, Vardan Sahakian, who told the court he could not calm his colleague down.

"I said forget about it, just forget about it but he was madly in love," Mr Sahakian recalled.

In his evidence he said Anna was rescued by her tall, large-framed Russian friend Andrei Diatlov.

Mr Diatlov arrived at the apartment and allegedly warned Mr Kishmishian not to return screaming the words: "I'm going to kill him".

Mr Sahakian, who spent several hours driving around Sydney with Mr Kishmishian for work, said his workmate had abused drivers several times.

"I always told Akop this was not a sensible way of behaving in an Australian environment," Mr Sahakian told the court.

A Cabramatta resident who witnessed the murder about 12.45am on April 19, 2001, told the court he saw a man hitting Mr Kishmishian six to eight times, however his vision was obscured because of the darkness and shrubs on his front lawn.

"One of the voices sounded like a female," the resident said.

"The female voice that I heard ... the English was not that good." The witness said he also heard the attacker yelling: "That's what you get for not listening" and "I want my money".

"I thought it was a hooker deal gone wrong," the witness told the court.

The same witness said he saw a white car leave the scene with the letter "U" in the centre of the number plate.

On Friday Mr Diatlov denied any involvement in the murder and told the court he was nowhere near Cabramatta that morning.

He said he was drinking vodka, eating Russian dumplings and watching films at a friend's Redfern apartment in the company of Mrs Musicco and others.

"I remember the vodka, I pay $40 and the vodka was crap," he told the court. "We watch a movie, have a little bit of vodka and then go to sleep."

When asked by counsel assisting the inquiry Leesa McEvoy who else could have murdered Mr Kishmishian he suggested it could have been "a Turk."

"The Turkish will kill any Armenian they see" he said.

He also suggested it could have been the husband of a Muslim woman that Mr Kishmishian was also having an affair with.

The court heard the Muslim woman had been interviewed by police but insisted her husband knew nothing about her relationship with Mr Kishmishian.

Deputy State Coroner Carl Milovanovich decided that Mr Kishmishian had been murdered by an unknown person.

He will refer the matter to the NSW Police Unsolved Homicide Unit and will be making recommendations for a reward to be posted in the hope of further information coming to light.