Cold Case reopened 17 years after father of 5 murdered for a stolen phone

Detectives investigating the stabbing murder of a father of five, 17 years ago, have reopened the case based on new information, today releasing comfit images of two people who may be able to assist the investigation.

NSW Police say that around 5.45am on May 15, 1999, 35-year-old Sanele Nickel, and his wife, Fagassau, were woken by a car alarm at their home in Taloma Avenue, Lurnea.

Mr Nickel went to investigate and noticed his car’s front passenger window had been smashed and his black Nokia mobile phone stolen.


Mrs Nickel watched her husband approach two people at the intersection with Hill Road and she went back inside to collect a jacket.

She emerged again to find her husband on the ground, clutching his stomach and screaming for help.

Stabbed three times, he collapsed and later died during emergency surgery.

A reward of $100,000 was offered following the murder but hasn’t been claimed.

Detectives say a witness has come forward with fresh information, allowing them to re-examine the case.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss that information but we view it as important enough to bolster the investigation,” Detective Inspector, Dean Johnstone, said.

Also, for the first time, detectives have released ‘comfit’ images of two men who may be able to assist them with their inquiries, based on Mrs Nickel’s descriptions at the time.

Investigators have also sent blood samples to government laboratories for re-examination using modern testing techniques.

“Almost 20 years later DNA technicians are able to test smaller samples of blood evidence and that may just give us the lead we need,” Detective Inspector Johnstone said.

“This was a pointless murder and Mr Nickel’s family deserves justice,” Detective Inspector Johnstone said.

“It seems he died for the sake of a stolen analogue phone, which in today’s terms, would be worth a mere few dollars.”