Bouncer Found Not Guilty Of Murdering Missing Schoolgirl
Three years after walking into a police station to "confess" to a Sydney schoolgirl's cold-case murder, Vinzent Tarantino is to walk out of court a free man.
The former nightclub bouncer, 52, on Wednesday was found not guilty by a NSW Supreme Court jury of killing 12-year-old Quanne Diec in 1998.
Tarantino repeatedly nodded at the jury and bowed at them after the verdict was delivered.
Quanne disappeared on July 27 after leaving her Granville home to walk to the train station on her way to school. Her body has never been found.
Tarantino told the jury his confession to police in 2016 was made falsely after he'd spent almost two decades on the run from bikies. He said he wanted to be locked up to be protected.
He was the first person on the scene after three senior Bandidos bikies were murdered in late 1997 in the basement at Sydney's Blackmarket Cafe.
Tarantino, who worked at the club, became convinced bikies were coming after him and spent years moving across the country, changing his name and implementing "anti-surveillance" measures, the court was told.
He told the jury he regretted confessing to Quanne's murder in November 2016 as "it affected so many people's lives".
He told police he kidnapped Quanne for ransom then panicked and strangled her about 15 minutes later, burying her body somewhere south of Sydney.
The jurors were shown video of a handcuffed Tarantino directing police through bushland days later as he looked for the area where he said he buried the girl.
They also viewed his second police interview, made five days later, during which he said he felt terrible about what had happened.
Tarantino told police he couldn't remember various details and locations but said he left Quanne's body on the side of the road a short distance into the bushland.
He said he returned on a different date with a wheelie bin to carry her body to another location.
"I just found a spot and I dragged the bin into the bush, dug a hole and placed Quanne in there and that was it," he said.
Tarantino's then-girlfriend, Laila Faily, testified at the trial that she'd gone for a drive in a van with him to an area she believed was a national park shortly after Quanne disappeared.
But her credibility was attacked by Tarantino's barrister, Belinda Rigg SC, who said her allegations over time were "wildly different" and inconsistent.
Rigg said there was "a reasonable possibility" that a Vietnam veteran who had been working at a nearby mail centre was involved in Quanne's disappearance.
The now-dead man had expressed hatred towards Asians, told people he had a sexual interest in young girls and went on leave just after Quanne disappeared.
The prosecutor previously told the jury people who worked with the man described him as being a "beast" and smelly. He reportedly said revolting racist and sexist things.
But that was the "extent of anything implicating him in any way" in Quanne's disappearance, according to the Crown.
The jury delivered its verdict on Wednesday morning after a seven-week trial and more than a week of deliberations.