The country Victorian town of Moe has languished through a stigma set to raise its ugly head once again after more than 20 years.
Once known for its brown coal deposits in the Latrobe Valley, in Victoria’s east, and electricity generation, the town has lived under a cloud of suspicion stemming from a death that remains unsolved to this day.
Jaidyn Leskie was just a baby when he vanished from his mum’s home on Narracan Drive, Newborough, just outside of Moe, late on June 14, 1997.
Jaidyn Leskie was just one when he vanished from his home just outside of Moe in 1997. He was found dead six months later
Greg Domaszewicz was charged with the little boy’s death, but was found not guilty. The case has haunted Moe ever since
A tribute to little Jaidyn Leskie, who was found dead beaten and bruised in a dam not far from his home in Moe in 1997
His mum’s then boyfriend, Greg Domaszewicz, was charged with murder and would endure a trial that put the working class town in the spotlight for a full two months.
Domaszewicz was found not guilty by the jury in December 1998 and the town of Moe would be etched in the minds of Victorians for decades to come.
On Monday, Domaszewicz will emerge from the shadows for the first time in years.
Veteran journalist Liz Hayes tracked down the elusive Domaszewicz as part of her Under Investigation crime series, which will air on Channel 9.
Hayes asked Domaszewicz was working on at his house could have fallen on Jaidyn and injured the toddler, he insisted
‘It’s a big difference from an accident, to say murder, but nothing happened at all, while he was at my house,’ Domaszewicz said.
Jaidyn’s body had been found in Blue Rock Dam – not far from where he went missing – six months after he disappeared.
A pig’s head had been thrown at the house and other vandalism on the evening of the toddler’s disappearance.
Moe would seem a world away to the good folk of metropolitan Melbourne, who for most would never have known Moe existed until it was splashed all over the newspapers and across their TV screens.
For months the battered face of little Jaidyn greeted them in daily bulletins.
While child killings have become sadly more prevalent, in the late 1990s, it was an atrocity that dragged on into a sad and sorry soap opera.
Jaidyn was just 13 months old when he was reported missing.
He had been in the care of Domaszewicz – an unemployed mechanic – while his mum Bilynda Murphy spent the night drinking in a neighbouring town.
Jaidyn’s mum had been in a casual relationship with Domaszewicz after splitting from Jaidyn’s father Brett Leskie – the ex-husband of her own sister, and father of her sister’s child.
Jaidyn Leskie was killed and his body dumped in a nearby dam. His killer has never been brought to justice and likely never will be
Bilynda Williams, mother of toddler Jaidyn Leskie, arrives at the Coroners Court for the third inquest into the death of her son in 2005
In reuniting those involved with the investigation, former lead detective Rowland Legg told Hayes the tangled family relationships that led to Jaidyn’s death were ‘not a family tree, but a forest!’
But irretrievably confusing the case – and the events that night – was a bizarre attack made on Domaszewicz’s house using a pig’s head as a projectile.
While Domaszewicz was picking up Jaidyn’s mum from the pub, a local named Kenny Penfold threw the severed pig’s head at his front windows.
The attack had allegedly been in retribution, he claimed, for Domaszewicz two-timing with his sister.
When Domaszewicz returned home with Bilynda and reported Jaidyn missing, he claimed the ‘pig’s head team’ must have snatched him.
Jaidyn’s mum Bilynda (pictured) had been in a casual relationship with Domaszewicz after splitting from Jaidyn’s father Brett Leskie
Jaidyn’s mum Bilynda (second from left) with Jaidyn’s father Brett Leskie and Jaidyn
Domaszewicz’s murder trial, held more than a year later, descended into a circus that went for months.
Few Melburnians old enough will forget the succession of colourful characters that graced the witness box.
It was those very characters Domaszewicz’s barrister had used to cast a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury.
Kenny Penfold and his ‘pig’s head crew’ did themselves little favour under cross examination by Domaszewicz’s crack legal team.
In fact, they were downright hostile and routinely shouted at the barristers from their position in the witness box.
Of course, all those nominated as suspects by Domaszewicz’s defence team have long denied playing any part in the disappearance and death of the toddler.
Domaszewicz has always denied the crime and later claimed he was stoned when Jaidyn disappeared and that he lied to police about his drug-taking that night.
When veteran crime reporter Keith Moor caught up with Domaszewicz in 2014, he continued to deny any wrongdoing.
Brett and Jaidyn Leskie in happier times
He claimed Jaidyn’s body was well preserved when found in a sleeping bag in the dam – showing, he said, that the body hadn’t been submerged for six months as alleged.
‘He was found, like, a lot bigger than how he went missing,’ Domaszewicz said.
‘The thing is, how did he grow? If he was in the water in that bag, how come that bag could rot … and yet he was all right?’
Jaidyn’s devastated mum continued her fight for justice long after Domaszewicz was cleared by the jury.
She pushed tirelessly for a public coronial inquest and when it was eventually granted in 2003 it heard evidence from more than 50 witnesses.
In his opening address, former Attorney-General Jim Kennan, SC, claimed there was evidence of Domaszewicz mistreating Jaidyn in the weeks before his death.
The inquiry went for near on a month, but when it came to an end, the coroner could still not determine who had killed the toddler.
Then State Coroner, Graeme Johnstone, handed down his finding in the Leskie inquest on October 4, 2006.
‘The fact that a decision has been made that Mr Domaszewicz disposed of Jaidyn’s body does not enable any conclusion to be reached about precisely how the child died — whether by accident or otherwise,’ he concluded.
Former lead detective Legg, Keith Moor, historian Doctor Elise Rosser and former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Whealy QC, will come together again in the hope of providing more answers to the unsolved mystery.
Under Investigation with Liz Hayes will present ‘Jaidyn Leskie: Little Boy Lost’ on Monday.