true crime

The victims of the notorious criminals Gino and Mark Stocco have shared their pain.

The story of former father and son fugitives Gino and Mark Stocco is one of the most bizarre and unsettling in recent memory, while also being almost a decade in the making.

Posing as farm workers, the pair — now 58 and 37, respectively — preyed on countless Australian families during their eight year crime spree, which ended dramatically after a 12-day police operation.

They each now face 17 charges, including for the murder of the 68-year-old caretaker of the remote Dunedoo property in central west NSW where they were finally arrested late last year.

On the eve of their sentencing, Channel Seven’s Sunday Night program has charted the rise and fall of two of the country’s most callous criminals.

“These two are not typical villains, they’re not disorganised antisocial men. They’re well organised, carefully planned,” Forensic psychiatrist Prof Paul Mullen told Sunday Night.

Gino and Mark Stocco. Source: Sunday Night

"Just as their work was described as meticulous, a lot of their criminal damage is meticulous and they come back with a very clear intention to do the maximum damage that they can.

"I mean, it's a message, it's definitely about vengeance."

Everywhere they went, from Queensland to Victoria, Gino and Mark Stocco left a trail of destruction in their wake.

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Once upon a time Gino operated a popular petrol station in his Queensland home town of Bambaroo, but after his marriage broke down he took his $100,000 divorce settlement and invested it in a yacht.

In 2003, he and his son set sail moving between Port Macquarie and Adelaide, stealing people's identities, their guns and their livelihoods, before being captured by police in 2006.

When they were released the following year their audacity only increased.

The Stoccos would use local country publications to find cash-in-hand jobs offering free accommodation and then terrorise their employers, stealing from them and often causing hundreds of thousands of dollars to their farms.

One of their victims was Doug Redding, who hired the pair as caretakers on his small property outside Cecil Plains in Southern Queensland where they worked for seven months.

Farmer Doug Redding was one of the Stoccos' many victims. Source: Sunday Night

"They left a trail of destruction, vandalism and theft in their wake," Redding told Sunday Night.

"They'd been doing this for along time and I wouldn't want it to happen to anyone else."

After a seemingly innocuous argument his two new workers turned on him.

"You're trying to comprehend what you're looking at," he recalled.

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"It was just like a bloody cyclone had been though the place. Like a frenzy. Like some bloody lunatic has been at it.

"I don't think these kinds of idiots need a trigger."

And yet for for years the two avoided captured, with increasingly frustrated farmers, like Redding, forced to resort to their own amateur investigations to track them down.

It took years for the Stoccos to appear on 'most wanted' lists. Source: NSW Police

Part of the reason they were so hard to pin down was that the Stoccos moved a lot travelling between three states.

They used their encyclopedic knowledge of bush trails to stay off police radars, and simultaneously managed to avoid their "most wanted" lists until the middle of last year.

One of their most disgusting acts was to exploit Victorian families left vulnerable by the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.

The Zipsins were one such family.

They welcomed the Stoccos into their home only to have them  take advantage of their hospitality over increasingly frequent, often unannounced visits.

The Zipsin family. Source: GoFundMe
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"We were preparing our breakfast and they just were standing in front of our window, I just got afraid," Sandra Zipsin recalled.

She told them not to return, triggering on of their trademark rampages, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage through arson.

"I just don't understand how someone could burn someone's livelihood like that," Rick Zispin said.

"They destroyed all our livelihoods and we'll never forgot what happened happened here. We've got mental damage for the rest of our days, I'd say."

On October 16, 2015, the Stoccos became involved in a shoot-out with NSW highway patrol near the Victorian border, leading to the 12 day, cross-country man hunt, which would eventually result to their capture.

The chase covered thousands of kilometres and made international news, as did the Stoccos' stolen white Toyota Landcruiser, which became almost as recognisable as their mugshots — it was also their undoing.

The ute was eventually spotted in Goonoo State Forestby near Dunedoo, which is close to Dubbo, by a local who then tipped off police.

The forest backed onto the property where, along with the decomposing body of it's caretaker Rosario Cimone, the dangerous duo was found and, eventually, arrested on October 28.

While they both face hefty prison sentences, their victims will likely never forget the damage they inflicted.

Sunday Night airs 7pm Sundays on Channel 7.

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