The distraught sister of a man brutally murdered inside a Sydney unit block two years ago has given a teary plea for information into his brutal death as police offer a $1 million reward.
Mark “Sharky” Russell was just getting his life back on track when he was stabbed to death inside his Surry Hills home, which he had finally moved into after almost two decades of living rough on the city streets.
Mr Russell, then aged 53, was found dead by emergency services inside his Clisdell St unit on February 25, 2018. He had suffered multiple stab wounds.
No one has been charged with his murder, but his family hope a $1 million reward will bring them closer to finding his killer.
His sister Julie Ann Stewart choked back tears alongside Mr Russell’s children Shane and Abbey as she recounted the horrific events that occurred two years ago to a beloved brother she had just rekindled her relationship with.
She has urged the public to cast their minds back to February 24 (the evening before his death) and February 25 in case they may remember any details from the night, however small.
“People might think it’s not important, but I watch a lot of crime shows and any little thing can be important … you just never know,” Ms Stewart said.
She described Mr Russell as a “kind, loving person” who was known as a colourful character by members of the community.
Mr Russell was a Cronulla Sharks tragic who had only recently moved into the apartment after living on the streets for years.
“(Mark was) living rough, which doesn’t mean that he deserved to be murdered and taken at his age,” Ms Stewart said before describing how the pair were wards of the state and were incredibly close as children.
“We still had fun given the circumstances,” she said.
“When you’re not with your parents you’ve got no family, you’ve only got each other.”
The announcement of a $1 million reward for information into the brutal murder comes just a day before a coronial inquest into Mr Russell’s death.
Homicide Squad Commander Detective Acting Superintendent David Laidlaw said police were reviewing CCTV footage and forensic evidence collected over the past two years.
He confirmed police had a few persons of interest but declined to comment any further.
However, he said there was evidence to suggest several people were inside the unit block on February 24, the night before Mr Russell’s body was found, and they were yelling or arguing.
Superintendent Laidlaw said there were also people inside the unit earlier in the day, but whether they were the same individuals remained unclear.
“The investigation is ongoing and will be for a long time, in essence, we won’t give up,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Police Minister David Elliott said Mr Russell’s family had to live with this murder for the last two-and-a-half years.
“The reward is there for a reason,” he said.
“It’s to make sure that the community knows, and indeed anybody with information knows, we’re taking this matter extremely seriously.”
During an earlier appeal for information, officers said it was clear Mr Russell had been brutally murdered but a motive was not known.
“Mr Russell was not engaged in any disputes as far as we can tell with anyone,” former homicide commander Detective Superintendent Scott Cook said.
“He didn’t owe anyone any money. For all intents and purposes, there’s no real explanation about motive.”
Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Fletcher detectives is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.