Not a day goes by that Steve Janceski does not look out his front window and feel a stinging pain deep inside his chest.
It has been six years and three months since his only son, Darko, was fatally shot on the front lawn of the Janceski family home in Gannet Avenue, Berkeley – the spot where he fell visible from the comfort of the black leather sofa in the living room.
For some, the constant reminder of such a personal tragedy might prove too difficult to bear, forcing them to sell up and move away to find some peace.
But not Steve. He won’t be going anywhere.
“If I depart this house, I’m departing him as well,” he says when explaining why he never considered moving after the events of April 14, 2012.
“His last breath was here and I will die here too.”
They are the words of a heartbroken father who loved his son, despite his flaws. Steve admits Darko was no angel in the last months of his life, but maintains his son was not responsible for the crime that ultimately led to his murder –the disappearance and suspected killing of Goran Nikolovski.
Goran’s older brother Rob Nikolovski was on Friday found guilty of playing a role in organising Darko’s murder as apparent “payback” for the death of Goran in October 2011.
But Steve says his son was no killer and partly blames the neighbourhood rumour mill for whipping up false stories.
“They all listened to the rumours – there was more rumour than truth,” he says.
Steve gives an honest opinion when asked about whether he thinks his son was involved in Goran’s disappearance: “Maybe Darko was involved but he never done it [the killing]. He may have known who did it but to open his mouth would have put him in danger. He always said to me ‘I’ve got no blood on my hands’.
The danger Steve speaks of relates to Darko’s involvement with the Comanchero outlaw motorcycle gang in the nine months before he died. It’s a topic that causes Steve to shake his head, admitting the club changed his “good boy”.
“Joining the Comancheros was the biggest mistake he ever made,” Steve says.
“I told him not to but he said ‘nah, they’re good people’. Before he died, he told his mother ‘I wish I’d never been born if I knew I was going to join the Comancheros.”
For the record: Steve Janceski on…
*Darko the man: He was very good up to 18. He was my son and my best friend.We had a close relationship, we worked together. I took him to construction sites with me. After a few years he said ‘dad this isn’t for me’ and he got a job selling cars. Within a year he got the job as wholesale manager with Albion Park Toyota, then group wholesale manager.
Darko’s criminal history: He was known to police but only in the last six to eight months of his life. Before then he only had driving matters.
Extortion allegations: He was defending his girlfriend.
Joining the Comancheros: I told him not to but he said, nah, they’re good people. Before his death he told us [joining] was the biggest mistake of his life. He was so sorry he joined them.
Darko’s involvement in Goran Nikolovski’s disappearance: Maybe he was involved but he never done it. He told us ‘I have no blood on my hands’.
Darko’s house fire: It wasn’t him, he was at the Steelers Club. But it was burned on purpose.
Fighting Wiggins: I had the opportunity to kill him. I wanted to disable him and I knew he was armed, but the garden stake caught him. When I went to swing again I saw a small head under the helmet. He was young. I thought to myself ‘this is only a kid, if I hit him one more time his head will be split in half’. I decided not to. I grabbed him instead. I didn’t want blood on my hands.
The police and prosecutors: Thanks to the police force they did an extensive search and thanks to the crown prosecutors. I think they did justice. I’m satisfied with the last two trials.
The end after six years: It’s a bit of a relief. You can’t bring him back but it’s a relief.
To his son’s killers: If you kill a man, it’s always with you. You won’t have a good life even if you escape the law.