The Block

EXCLUSIVE: My dad was murdered on The Block

The show’s multimillion-dollar makeover of the Gatwick won’t erase its haunting history.

With sagging ceilings, dirty carpets and peeling paint, it's not hard to see why Melbourne's notorious Gatwick Private Hotel, which will be renovated as part of this year's The Block, has been described as a "house of horrors."

Behind the derelict hotel's exterior lies a history even more sinister – something Shannon Lisinski, 44, knows too well after her father Paul was tragically murdered there by a fellow guest in 1999.

Sad reminder

Shannon Lisinski's father Paul was tragically murdered at the Gatwick by a fellow guest in 1999.
Shannon Lisinski's father Paul was tragically murdered at the Gatwick by a fellow guest in 1999.

Now – in a heartbreaking coincidence – the first episode of the show will mark the 19th anniversary of Shannon's father's death. She looks back at her memories of the Gatwick with mixed emotion.

"I'd lost contact with my father for about eight years and eventually found him at the Gatwick. He was an alcoholic. I visited him a couple of times and remember it being dark and smelling of urine. But the women running the place were lovely."

"I heard on the radio someone had died there, did some research and found out it was my father. He'd been murdered by a girl who was staying with him. She ended up being sentenced to nine years," recalls Shannon.

"The residents were lovely, downtrodden but they had enormous hearts, as did my dad. Many wanted to help with my father's funeral and some said a few words, but it was a sad place overall," she says.

The Gatwick before renovations, leaked police data revealed more than 50 serious crimes took place within six months at the property.
The Gatwick before renovations, leaked police data revealed more than 50 serious crimes took place within six months at the property.

Two years ago, leaked police data revealed more than 50 serious crimes took place within six months at the property, including arson, a stabbing, two rapes, at least 19 drug offences and aggravated burglaries.

But when it opened in 1937, the Gatwick was a far cry from the "Hotel Hell" it would become.

It was described as a "luxurious" hotel that served as a destination for travellers from all over the world.

A room in the Gatwick before *The Block* renovations.
A room in the Gatwick before The Block renovations.

All that changed in the '60s, when Vittoria Carbone bought the hotel and turned it into a boarding house for those in need of cheap housing.

Providing accommodation for everyone from runaways to sex workers, to anyone who needed a roof over their head, the hotel was eventually put up for sale when Vittoria died in 1998. Her twin daughters, Rose Banks and Yvette Kelly, bought the hotel and took over.

For the next 16 years they worked tirelessly to help Melbourne's homeless but the duo couldn't prevent the horrors that went on after dark.

Eerie feeling

In 2014, a long-term resident was kicked to death in an upstairs corridor. The walls were splattered in his blood.

Then, in 2006, Arthur Karatasiosis was fatally stabbed in the foyer, and a year earlier Russian immigrant Sammy Garfunkel was found dead in his room with 12 fractured ribs, a crushed larynx and a lacerated ear.

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*The Block* co-host, Shelley Craft says there were some spook moments while filming.
The Block co-host, Shelley Craft says there were some spook moments while filming.

While Father Bob Maguire blessed the property last year – and the souls of those who had passed away – it was hard for the contestants on The Block to shake the eerie feeling when they set up camp within the tainted walls.

Co-host Shelley Craft said, "I'm sure there were more than ghosts in that building. It was super creepy. It was one of those buildings that if the walls could talk… "

"I can't say I saw any ghosts but I certainly felt that the building had some history. When they started bringing up the carpets, it was something out of a horror movie. "

"But that's the thing when you're renovating an old place, it's always when the carpet comes up that the truth comes out."

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