‘A hitman murdered my parents’
NICOLA Komiazyk had just become a mother for the first time when she learned her parents Terence and Christine Hodson had been brutally murdered in their home at Kew East, Melbourne.
They had been shot dead just months before Terence Hodson was due to give evidence in a criminal trial against former Victorian drug squad detective Paul Dale.
"Dad said he was a dead man walking but I don't think he thought mum would be killed too," Ms Komiazyk told news.com.au.
"I hate to think what their final moments were like. After all these years it still feels exactly the same, as if it happened yesterday."
The prime suspect in the couple's deaths, notorious Melbourne hitman Rodney Collins, died on Wednesday in jail, where he was serving a life sentence for the 1987 murders of Ramon and Dorothy Abbey.
Melbourne underworld figure Carl Williams claimed Mr Dale paid him $150,000 to have Mr Hodson killed and that he hired Collins to do the job.
Mr Dale and Collins were charged with the Hodson murders in 2009, but the case collapsed after Williams was murdered in prison in 2010. Both Collins and Mr Dale denied involvement.
Incredibly, Ms Komiazyk learned of Collins' death not from police but via a journalist, who called her for comment last night.
"I was happy to hear he had died because it means he can't hurt other families like he hurt ours and those of god knows who else he murdered," she said.
"But I'm also sad because I do believe he was involved in my parents' murders and justice was not served. It was just a job for him. He has no soul and the world is a better place without him."
Collins' death at 72 from cancer in the maximum security Barwon prison came just days ahead of what would have been the 14th anniversary of the double slaying next week.
"The last time I spoke to my mother was on Mother's Day and they were murdered just a few days later," Ms Komiazyk said through tears this morning.
"She said: 'I love you very much'. Those were her last words to me. This (Mother's Day) weekend is going to be very hard for me. It's always a very emotional day."
Collins, known variously as "The Duke", "Cherokee", or "Uncle" to his underworld associates, was already a seasoned killer by the time he got to the Hodsons.
Police believe he carried out up to nine executions although he was only convicted of two - the 1987 murders of drug dealer Ramon "Ray" Abbey and his wife Dorothy.
In that case, he impersonated a police officer to gain entry into their West Heidelberg home, locking their three children in their bedrooms before shooting Ray and slitting Dorothy's throat.
Collins was finally charged with their murders in 2008 and was given a life sentence which kept him behind bars until his death this week.
He is also thought to have slashed the throats of drug dealer Michael Schievella and his partner Heather McDonald, who was attacked with such ferocity she was almost decapitated.
Like Ms McDonald, Christine Hodson appears to have been killed because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
According to the Herald Sun, Carl Williams claimed he had hired Collins to kill Terence Hodson at the request of Mr Dale, who at the time was suspended from his job as a drug squad detective pending a criminal investigation.
Williams said he had asked Collins about the needless killing of Christine, the paper reported.
"What happened with the sheila?" Williams is said to have asked.
"That's not for you to worry about," Collins reportedly replied.
Mr Hodson's body was said to have been found with a bullet casing perched atop his head although Ms Komiazyk told news.com.au that she could not be sure of this.
She was spared the trauma of the crime scene - her brother Andrew and sister Mandy found their bodies - and says she often thinks about how terrified her parents must have been in their final moments.
"After they were murdered, I lived in fear," Ms Komiazyk told news.com.au. "I never used to leave the house. It was a very scary time for me because I had just had my first child and it was as if the whole world had left us alone."
Despite the years of having to look over their shoulders because of Terence Hodson's role as a police informant, her parents maintained a strong marriage til the very end.
"At the time, I didn't know much about the situation they were in. Dad basically said that he'd done things in his life that he wasn't proud of but that it's not the police that would be coming for him, it would be the criminals.
"But they stayed strong and true to each other through it all. They lived for each other and they died together."