September 28, 2011
Mom thanks son for killing former Winnipeg wrestler Radocaj
By DEAN PRITCHARD - Winnipeg Sun

Big John Radocaj prepares to compete in a Winnipeg sumo bout. (NEW BRAND WRESTLING ARCHIVES)

WINNIPEG - After hearing that Ivan (John) Radocaj had been killed, alleged co-conspirator Rita Cushnie congratulated her son, Donald Richard, on a job well done, jurors were told Wednesday.

"She hugged Donald and thanked him for being a bad boy," Donald's cousin, Tim Richard, testified.

Tim Richard was one of six people arrested for killing Rodocaj.

He has been granted immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony against his five co-accused, including Radocaj's estranged wife, Melody Sanford.

Radocaj, 43, a former wrestler once known as the Croatian Giant, was found beaten to death in his Interlake, Man.-area home on Sept. 14, 2007.

Sanford, 47, Donald Richard, 34, and Cushnie, 56, are on trial for first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.


The Crown alleges Sanford orchestrated the killing while Richard, cousin Daniel Richard and Christopher Houle, carried it out.

Cushnie is alleged to have been involved in the murder conspiracy.

Tim Richard told jurors he was living with Donald and his family in Winnipeg when he overheard Donald and Daniel in the basement "talking about a deal to have a man killed."

"I heard that this woman had told Donald her husband had drugged her daughter and sexually molested her," Tim Richard said.

Sanford's daughter testified Tuesday that Radocaj never assaulted her.

Tim Richard said he drove with Donald, Daniel and Houle to Radocaj's house the night he was killed, but remained in the van.

He said the three co-accused went into the house armed with crowbars and a metal pipe, and waited for Radocaj to return home.

After Radocaj was dead, Donald took the wheel and said, "This was exciting, doesn't this pump your blood?" Tim Richard told court.

The men drove to Cushnie's home in Eriksdale, Man., where Sanford was waiting, Tim Richard said.

"Melody thanked Donald for doing this for her" and gave him $200, Tim Richard said. "She said, 'I'll get the rest for you when I get the life insurance'."

The trial resumes Monday.

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