The third instalment of confronting true-crime series Murder Calls Australia explores one of Sydney’s most gruesome double murders this Wednesday, March 8, at 8.40pm on Nine.
The victims were 34-year-old single gay man, Stephen Dempsey, and 42-year-old Lebanese-Australian father of seven and devoted husband, Ezzedine Bahmad, a taxi driver. It would take the investigators time, patience and a number of vital phone calls before they caught the evil psychopath who killed for thrills.
In a heartfelt, first-time interview, Ezzedine Bahmad’s daughter, Diane, breaks her silence and reveals how her distraught mother learnt that her hard-working husband would never walk through their front door again.
“I thought there was a crazy person out there,” Diane laments in this Murder Calls exclusive.
To this day Diane is still emotionally troubled, especially by the fact that the brutal slaying of her father could have been prevented if the killer’s girlfriend, Denise Shipley, had gone to police about the first murder that her boyfriend committed on Stephen Dempsey.
He told her, “There’s a man in the fridge”, meaning a cut-up body. But instead of telling police, Shipley kept quiet and in fact, unbelievably continued in her relationship with the murderer, Richard Leonard.
Leonard was a 22-year-old ex-abattoir worker with a love of knives, bows and arrows, and out of 122 phone calls made to police his name continually popped up as a potential suspect. He was a psychopath who thought he was much smarter than the detectives chasing him. He thought he could get away with a double murder but incongruously, one of his own phone calls would put him behind bars for the rest of his life – never to be released.
Murder Calls Australia, narrated by Leila McKinnon, explores murder cases that were solved by the power of one of our most innocuous devices – the phone.