A handsome British TV host, a sexy Penthouse pet, her body-builder boyfriend, a mystery package containing a bomb and a faked death are at the centre of this 18-year old murder mystery that came before Parramatta Local Court over the weekend.
Roberto de Heredia, a former Foxtel Shopping Network presenter, has been extradited back to Australia from Spain to face charges over allegedly sending a parcel containing a bomb in June 1998.
De Heredia has been accused of sending a parcel to Simone Cheung at her boyfriend’s address in Belrose, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. It exploded, causing Ms Cheung’s boyfriend, Brett Boyd, to lose his left eye and right thumb. He suffered facial scars and partial deafness as a result.
Boyd never recovered emotionally, and further threats were made to his life. He tragically committed suicide a decade later – in 2008.
In the weeks before sending the parcel bomb, the TV host had reportedly been shot three times outside his own home. It is also believed that de Heredia and Boyd – who were friends – had fallen out over a loan of $80,000 that Mr Boyd failed to repay, which was to establish an online pornography business.
Just three months after the explosion, police arrested de Heredia who was 29 at the time. He was committed to stand trial for attempted murder.
But while on bail, he faked his own death just a month before the trial was due to begin. He borrowed a 4WD and was last seen driving it around Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. The vehicle was found abandoned in Kings Cross a few days later, stained with de Heredia’s blood.
It was originally thought that de Heredia had been murdered, but police launched a manhunt after suspecting he faked his own demise.
It is believed de Heredia used a fake passport to travel to Bali, and then to Spain where he carved out a new life as a foreign exchange trader.
What About Simone?
Simone Cheung travelled to California, with ambitions of becoming famous in the music industry. She recorded a few songs under the name Simone Starr, but was never picked up by a major label.
In 2009, she was arrested and imprisoned for smuggling ice into Australia, disguised a bath salts.
Last year, Australian and British authorities reopened the investigation into de Heredia, determined to secure justice.
He was arrested last month after trying to enter the UK using fake documents. He was extradited to Australia and did not apply for bail when he recently faced Parramatta Local Court.
Northern Beaches Local Area Commander, Superintendent Dave Darcy, says the charges are the result of a complex and protracted investigation.
“The arrest of this man — some 18 years after the alleged offence — demonstrates the lengths my officers will go to ensure matters are appropriately investigated,” he said.
“Arrests like this powerfully demonstrate to victims of violent crime that we are determined to bring offenders before the courts, irrespective of how challenging the investigation may be.”