Men Acquitted of Murder | Criminal Defence Lawyer Sydney



As Sydney’s best criminal defence lawyers with a wealth of experience in criminal law and court appeals, Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders have successfully convinced the Courts to acquit a man (Franco Michael Penza) who had been already jailed for 5 years, of murder.


In 2009, during the trial of Franco Michael Penza and Joshua Di Maria, the court heard that the pair went to Mr Minotte’s residence, already armed with a firearm, intending to steal cash and drugs that was concealed at the property. One of the accused openly admitted during his trial that the pair went to Mr Minotte’s property and used a sledgehammer and chisel to break open a laundry wall which concealed the money, a sum of at least $250,000 according to the son of the victim.

The accused further stated that Mr Minotte confronted the pair while pointing a gun at one of the appellants. During the confrontation, there was fear that Mr Minotte would shoot which resulted in a brick being thrown at the victim and led to the gun being fired.

It was also found that following to the confrontation which left Mr Minotte dead, Mr Di Maria travelled to various locations with his girlfriend, including Bangkok, Malaysia, Milan, Rome and Sicily in which the trips were paid for in cash. Upon his arrival in Australia in 2007, he was then arrested with the murder of Mr Minotte.

The crown prosecutor for the case had alleged that both of the accused men were involved in a “joint criminal enterprise” that involved them robbing the victim with a known possibility of the need to fire the weapon. The trial also found that the pair were guilty of murder in which they received a minimum sentence of 13 years and a maximum of 18 years in gaol.


After the initial trial, the two men appealed their convictions for several different reasons. As leading criminal defence lawyers, Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders, represented Penza and gave several reasons for their his apepal including an unreasonable verdict considering the evidence presented. Another defence our Sydney based criminal law firm provided to the court to support their appeal was the fact the Judge had failed to give the jury a charge of ‘manslaughter by unlawful and dangerous act’ for the jury’s consideration.


After hearing the appeals presented by our expert criminal defence lawyers, Benjamin and Leonardo successfully achieved outstanding results for their client. Justice Clifton Hoeben of the Court of Criminal Appeal stated that there was difficulty with the evidence presented about a range of factors including the weapon and bullet casings that were found on the floor of the house. Along with this, he stated that no evidence had been presented to show that either of the men had ever owned or had a gun prior to the incident, nor would they be able to procure such a weapon late in that night.

The Judge went on to state that the scenario was “consistent with innocence” in relation to the murder charge and that was supported by the evidence that was available. As a result, the appeals court found that there was not enough evidence that the two men had gone there with the premeditated idea of murdering the victim, but in fact, could very well have been confronted by the gun themselves which fired during a scuffle with the victim on 17 April 2006. This finding successfully exonerated the men of murder which was an extremely successful outcome for our criminal lawyers.

Have you received a penalty that you think is too harsh? For more information on Benjamin Leonardo – The Defenders and how we can help appeal your traffic-related or criminal conviction, do not hesitate to contact our professional and dedicated team on (02) 9283 3033 to schedule a FREE consultation.