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Ex-lawyer obtained guns illegally before killing partner

The State Coroner will investigate how disgraced ex-lawyer Charles Bisucci's friends helped him illegally obtain a gun he used to kill his partner inside her luxury Kew mansion.

The bodies of Mr Bisucci, 69, and Marilyn Burdon, 70, were found in separate rooms of the Princess Road home on August 21, 2017. Both had been shot dead in a suspected act of murder-suicide.

At the time Mr Bisucci, who had recently moved in with Ms Burdon, was the subject of a firearm prohibition order after a separate incident of family violence many years earlier, which resulted in police seizing 16 guns from his Melbourne home.

Marilyn Burdon, 70, who was shot dead by her partner in a suspected murder suicide in Kew in August 2017.

On Tuesday, the Victorian Coroners Court heard a number of other men appeared to have helped Mr Bisucci circumvent his prohibition order and obtain guns, including the one used to kill Ms Burdon.

The coroner also heard that police were aware Mr Bisucci had continued illegally obtaining guns, in breach of his prohibition order, and they knew other illegal guns connected to the former lawyer and his associates were out in the community, but "discontinued" any investigation.

One officer from Morwell later learned of a number of missing guns connected to one of Mr Bisucci's closest associates and raised a "memo of concern" with Victoria Police head office, but no action was taken.

The crime scene in August 2017. Credit:Chris Hopkins

Counsel assisting the coroner Nicholas Ngai said that in 2004 Mr Bisucci had 16 firearms when his licence was cancelled, all his registered firearms reportedly seized and he was declared a prohibited person under the Firearms Act.

Seized weapons were said to have included the .33 Winchester lever action rifle, but police now say this was the weapon used to kill Ms Burdon more than a decade later.

In 2014, following a tip-off, police searched the disqualified lawyer's home at Strathmore and found six firearms in an unlocked cabinet in the garage. He was convicted and fined $1500.

The coroner heard that as Mr Bisucci’s mental health began to deteriorate, his psychiatrist had gone as far as to warn Ms Burdon, his partner of six years, of the risks of getting into a financial relationship with the 69-year-old, and that he was worried he secretly held feelings of self harm.

During one of his final appointments, two weeks before the pair's deaths, Ms Burdon was reportedly heard saying, "I can't cope with him”, before Mr Bisucci told his psychiatrist his partner did not want him any more and he had “nothing to live for”.

On the day of her death, Ms Burdon was scheduled to have lunch with one of her daughters, but when she didn't arrive two of her children went to the house and found Mr Bisucci's body about 3.30pm.

State Coroner John Cain will hold a four-day inquest into Ms Burdon's death in early 2021 after the victim's family lodged a request in June this year.

About a dozen witnesses include Mr Bisucci's lover, Karen Cattapan, his boss, and a leading forensic domestic violence expert.

Police stand guard at the residence in Princess St, Kew.Credit:Chris Hopkins

Mr Cain will investigate the circumstances of Ms Burdon's death and identify whether there are any opportunities to reduce the number of preventable deaths.

This will include examining Victoria Police policies and procedures for investigating missing, lost and stolen firearms, and scrutinising the decision-making of officers involved in the 2014 investigation into illegal firearm possession by Mr Bisucci.

Anyone needing support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. For assistance the national domestic violence helpline can be contacted on1800 RESPECT. In case of emergency call 000.

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