Safe as Houses: 6 Collins St, North Ryde
Many houses have been the scenes of heinous crimes, but one NSW property’s notoriety managed to change real estate law.
When Taiwanese immigrants Ellen Lin and Derek Kwok bought the four-bedroom brick home at 6 Collins Street in North Ryde, they thought they’d found an amazing deal on their dream home. The couple paid $800,000 for the property, which had sat vacant for three years.
What they hadn’t been told was the reason the property hadn’t sold, and the reason the price was so enticing.
On July 10 of 2001, 20-year-old university student Sef Gonzales entered his sister Clodine’s bedroom with a baseball bat and two kitchen knives. Clodine had returned for the school holidays to the family home at 6 Collins Street from her boarding school in Melbourne. Clodine and Sef’s strict parents, Teddy and Mary Loiva, had sent Clodine away to study after disapproving of a boy she had been spending time with.
Sef strangled his sister, struck her repeatedly with the baseball bat and stabbed her in the neck, chest and abdomen.
Next Sef laid in wait for his parents to return from their work at his father’s legal practice. He repeatedly stabbed his mother Mary Loiva as she entered the home, transecting her windpipe and killing her before she’d even had time to remove her shoes or put her bag away.
On his way home from his Blacktown legal practice, Teddy Gonzales attempted to call the landline at the house. The call went unanswered. When he arrived home, Sef fell on him as he entered the door, stabbing him in the lung, heart and partially severing his spinal cord.
6 Collins Street in 2013. Source: Google Maps
What followed the brutal murders was a year-long investigation in which Sef Gonzales spun a web of lies regarding his whereabouts the night of the killings, enemies his parents had made, racial motivations for the murders and fictional intruders he had caught fleeing the scene of the crime. Ultimately, Sef’s crime came down to greed. He was performing poorly in university and his parents had threatened to take his car. He also wanted to be the sole beneficiary of his family’s estate, thought to be in the millions.
Instead, Gonzales was eventually convicted of the murders and is now serving three concurrent life sentences in Goulburn. He still maintains his innocence.
None of this information was shared with Lin and Kwok when they purchased 6 Collins Street. At the time, no laws in New South Wales compelled real estate agents to disclose if a murder had taken place in a property. That changed when Lin and Kwok found out the grim history of their home and sought to get their deposit back. The legal wrangling saw the agents who sold the home fined nearly $21,000, and the couple were refunded their $80,000 deposit.
New South Wales law changed in the aftermath of the scandal, and agents are now required to disclose if a murder has taken place inside a home.
The house at 6 Collins Street finally sold in 2005, with an anonymous buyer paying $720,000, fully aware of the house’s history. Realestate.com.au now estimate’s the property’s value at between $1.725 and $2.2 million. While the property may once again be a peaceful, suburban family home, it will always hold a place in Australia’s criminal history.
Our regular Safe As Houses column examines some of the most infamous crime scenes in Australia from a real estate perspective. It's published each Tuesday at finder.com.au.