Man was stabbed, bludgeoned to death with statue in Sydney’s inner west, court told

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Man was stabbed, bludgeoned to death with statue in Sydney’s inner west, court told

By Georgina Mitchell

The brutal bludgeoning and stabbing of a man in Sydney’s inner west is back in the spotlight more than a decade after the murder after the DNA of the alleged killer’s son was found in a database, a court has been told.

Naji Fakhreddine, 68, is on trial in NSW Supreme Court accused of killing Bernd Lehmann, 66, by repeatedly hitting him in the head with a 2.7-kilogram statue and stabbing him in the neck. He has pleaded not guilty.

Naji Fakhreddine leaves court on Tuesday.

Naji Fakhreddine leaves court on Tuesday.Credit: AAP/Bianca de Marchi

Lehmann had planned to travel to Germany on February 12, 2008, to care for his elderly mother, but he never made his scheduled flight at 4.55pm. His last known phone call was at 11.12am that day to a local travel agent.

Crown prosecutor Sally Traynor told a jury on Tuesday that Lehmann was found lying face down in his Ashfield unit after his brother contacted friends in Australia when he did not arrive in Germany.

A blood-covered statue of a woman was found near his body, while the statue’s head was in a different room and two knives were missing from the kitchen. A large stab wound was found on the back of his neck and he suffered significant blunt-force head trauma.

In an opening statement, Traynor said three shoe prints were also found on Lehmann’s back: one in blood, and two in a black substance. The shoe was determined to be a knock-off of a designer brand sold overseas.

Bernd Lehmann, 66, was killed at his unit in Ashfield.

Bernd Lehmann, 66, was killed at his unit in Ashfield.

Traynor said police found DNA on the statue, on nine cigarette butts in the lounge room, and in semen in Lehmann’s mouth, which matched a person who was known for 12 years as “unknown individual A”.

In 2020, police from the unsolved homicide squad carried out a DNA search that suggested Fakhreddine’s son, Hassan Fakhreddine, was either the son or the sibling of the unknown person.


Further testing confirmed Naji Fakhreddine was a DNA match and that his fingerprints matched bloodied prints found on the statue, and he was charged in 2021, the prosecutor said.

Traynor said the bloodied fingerprint suggested Fakhreddine had blood on his hands when he picked up the statue and bludgeoned Lehmann. She said blood spatter showed Lehmann was then hit an additional time.

The prosecutor said the Crown would allege in a circumstantial case that Lehmann engaged in a consensual sex act with Fakhreddine, whom he had met at a local club, before Fakhreddine murdered him.

Defence barrister Jennifer Layani Ellis said her client had told police, “I am not the killer”. She said the jury should remember those words.

“Mr Fakhreddine is facing trial for the murder of a man that he did not kill,” she said.

Layani Ellis said her client agreed that he met Lehmann shortly before his death, was at his home on the day he died, and that his DNA and fingerprints were found at the home. However, she said, her client disputed being the person responsible for the killing.

“You will hear Mr Fakhreddine saying to the police ‘I have not committed that crime’,” Layani Ellis said. “He said to police ‘I am not killing people, I am not that guy’.

“It will not be a straightforward case, ladies and gentlemen, it will be a complex case with multiple layers.”

The trial continues.

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