Chicken shop tycoon murdered lover: jury

West Australian chicken shop tycoon Gerardus Heijne has been found guilty of murdering his gay lover and business partner at their luxury Perth apartment. Heijne, 45, faces a minimum 10-year sentence after a Supreme Court jury found him guilty of murdering Frank Ciancosi, 55, a co-owner with Heijne of the WA Lenard's chicken master franchise.

http://www.thewest.com.au
June 8, 2009

Chicken shop tycoon murdered lover: jury

West Australian chicken shop tycoon Gerardus Heijne has been found guilty of murdering his gay lover and business partner at their luxury Perth apartment.

Heijne, 45, faces a minimum 10-year sentence after a Supreme Court jury found him guilty of murdering Frank Ciancosi, 55, a co-owner with Heijne of the WA Lenard's chicken master franchise.

A jury of eight men and four women took four hours to find Heijne not guilty of the more serious charge of wilful murder but guilty of Mr Ciancosi's murder.

Heijne had admitted to strangling Mr Ciancosi in the bedroom of their East Perth apartment on January 3 last year, but told the WA Supreme Court he was provoked and did not mean to kill his partner when he grabbed his throat and punched him.

Mr Ciancosi's family and friends embraced and kissed, while sister Diane Stefani wept in the public gallery as the jury delivered its verdict.

"Justice is done," said his father Mario Ciancosi.

Heijne stood impassively in the dock as the verdict was announced.

He could be sentenced as early as Tuesday, when Justice John McKechnie hears victim impact statements and defence submissions for a psychiatric assessment of Heijne.

Justice McKechnie had told the jury that the court could only accept a unanimous decision on the charge of wilful murder.

However, the jury could find Heijne guilty of the lesser charge of murder if it found he did not intend to kill Mr Ciancosi, but to cause him grievous bodily harm.

The defence argued that Heijne should be acquitted on the grounds of self-defence.

Heijne, who was Mr Ciancosi's live-in partner for more than 25 years, claims his partner provoked him by backhanding him and calling him "nothing but a f***ing dumb body-builder".

He said the pair had argued over Mr Ciancosi's failure to go to work and tend to business matters.

The prosecution claimed Heijne wanted Mr Ciancosi "out of the road" so he could start a "new life" with his 19-year-old lover, whose name has been suppressed.

AAP

http://www.thewest.com.au/aapstory.aspx?StoryName=579038


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