The 2011 killing of Balkan underworld crime figure Saso Ristevski remains unsolved, after a murder charge against a Victorian man was dropped in the NSW Supreme Court earlier this month.
Lloyd Murrell, 48, was charged with the murder of Ristevski in 2017, almost six years after the Wollongong crime figure was confronted by three men and shot dead at his parent's Lake Heights home, with a gun that was later discovered in Victoria.
Ristevski, a convicted drug trafficker with links to Melbourne organised crime, had been on parole for a year when he was killed, after serving time for trafficking half a kilogram of cocaine.
Another man, Talatau Amone, now aged 42, was also charged in 2017 over the incident, in which Ristevski was allegedly assaulted and shot when three men arrived at his home with the intention of robbing him.
Mr Amone was charged with being an accessory before the fact to armed robbery and remains on bail. Mr Murrell was charged with murder and was extradited to NSW from a Victorian jail, where he was serving a sentence for an unrelated crime.
However the murder charge was dropped in the Supreme Court on February 8 as Murrell is no longer believed to be the shooter, it is understood.
Murrell remains before the court charged with robbery offences, including assault with intent to rob while in company, and causing wounding or grievous bodily harm.
Homicide investigators are continuing to search for another person, who is believed to have discharged the firearm.
Until they catch the suspected shooter, it is understood police will be unable to confirm if Ristevski's death was the result of a botched robbery or whether it was in fact a targeted hit, disguised as a robbery.
The death is being investigated by Strike Force Calligan, which was established by the NSW homicide squad, with assistance from detectives in the Lake Illawarra and Wollongong districts, to investigate a number of crimes in the Illawarra region.
Calligan is also investigating the alleged murder and disappearance of two other criminal figures, including the suspicious disappearance of Goran Nikolovski, who had links with the Comanchero outlaw motorcyle gang.
Ristevski and Nikolovski were originally associates through the drug trade, who began feuding after they were both released from jail.
While investigators originally explored whether Nikolovski was linked to Ristevski's murder, the theory was dropped after Nikolovski provided an alibi proving that at the time of the murder he was dining at a Sydney restaurant with exiled Comanchero boss Mark Buddle.
Nikolovski then disappeared on October 31 in 2011 after leaving his house in Unanderra. His car was found burnt out at Macquarie Pass early the following day and he has never been seen since.
A second related murder being investigated by Calligan is that of Darko Janceski, 32, who was shot dead in the front yard of his home at Berkeley in April 2012. He was a disenfranchised Comanchero member.
It is alleged that Janceski's death was payback for Nikolovski's presumed murder.
Both Murrell and Amone are next due to appear at Wollongong District Court on March 12.
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