SA police caught Hendon killer using sophisticated sting

Jayne Stinson

A sophisticated police sting used to trap the killer of Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe has also been used to lure a South Australian murderer.

The details of the investigation into Nick Piscioneri's death can be revealed after a successful court application by 7 News.

Nick Piscioneri was brutally murdered after he refused to lend money to Damien Jelicic. Photo: 7 News
Nick Piscioneri was brutally murdered after he refused to lend money to Damien Jelicic. Photo: 7 News

The elderly man was found bloodied and beaten in his Hendon home three years ago. He had been struck on the head with a metal bar ten times.

Police soon suspected Damien Jelicic, whose mother was a friend and neighbour of the victim.

Security cameras had recorded him before and after the killing but police needed more evidence.

CCTV footage of Jelicic was not enough to prove his link to Mr Piscioneri's murder. Photo: 7 News
CCTV footage of Jelicic was not enough to prove his link to Mr Piscioneri's murder. Photo: 7 News

They set up a covert sting known as the 'Mr Big' operation, in which officers posed as gang members in a meeting with Jelicic.

They advised him that if he told them everything, a powerful underworld boss would pull strings with police and ensure he got away with murder.

Police used the 'Mr Big' technique to catch Brett Cowan for the murder of Daniel Morcombe.

Brett Cowan confessed to killing Daniel Morcombe during a covert sting. Photo: 7 News
Brett Cowan confessed to killing Daniel Morcombe during a covert sting. Photo: 7 News

In a recording of that undercover meeting, Cowan could be heard saying, “Yeah I did it. Grabbed him around the neck and before I knew it he was dead”.

Jelicic's confession was also secretly recorded and he even showed his 'new best friends' where he dumped the victim's wallet and cushions.

Jelicic explained that he had faked a robbery when the pensioner would not lend him money.

After confessing to the men, he was relieved;"Something lifted, like a weight off my shoulders," he said.

"Honestly I was going to keep that ‘til the grave."

News break – April 28