Borce Ristevski played the role of anguished husband desperate to find his missing wife Karen, the woman he had killed. Now he will spend more time in jail.
Borce Ristevski played the role of anguished husband desperate to find his missing wife Karen, the woman he had killed. Now he will spend more time in jail.

Ristevski silent as sentence for killing Karen increased

Remorseless wife killer Borce Ristevski will spend four years longer behind bars after appeal judges declared his sentence inadequate.

Ristevski, 55, remained silent and stared ahead on the video link as the decision was handed down in the Court of Appeal this morning.

His daughter Sarah, sitting in the back row of the court, showed no emotion as she learnt her father would not see freedom until late 2027.

All three judges agreed Ristevski deserved a tougher penalty for killing his wife Karen at their Avondale Heights home in June 2016, setting aside his nine-year jail term.

But they could not agree on what he should be resentenced to, with a 2-1 majority setting the new sentence at 13 years, with a non-parole period of 10 years.

 

Justice Priest said he would have set a 12-year term with a chance of parole after nine years.

Justice Anne Ferguson said because Ristevski had not shown "one scintilla" of remorse, they could not take remorse into account as a mitigating factor.

She said there were no other cases like it, but the fact the killing took place in a domestic setting was an aggravating feature.

Justice Ferguson and Justice Simon Whelan observed Ristevski "did not simply maintain his right to silence, but took immediate positive steps to avoid his crime being discovered".

Justice Priest said "it could be inferred that Mr Ristevski must have thought that the circumstances of the killing were sufficiently serious to warrant disposing of his wife's body to conceal how she died".

He considered the nine-year sentence to be "inadeqaute to reflect the seriousness of thr offending".

Borce Ristevski has never revealed how he killed his wife. Picture: David Crosling
Borce Ristevski has never revealed how he killed his wife. Picture: David Crosling

In the hearing, which lasted just 12 minutes, Karen's brother Stephen Williams embraced with his son as he learnt his sister's killer would be locked up for longer.

Outside court, while happy his sister's killer would be caged for longer, Mr Williams said justice will never be served.

"It's as good as a result then we could have got," he said.

"I wanted capital punishment to be brought back in but that was never going to happen."

Mr Williams said he believed Ristevski would take to his grave the circumstances of the killing.

He hoped they would now be able to "start moving on".

Sarah Ristevski, who has always declared her support for her killer father, visiting him in prison weekly and speaking to him daily, met his legal team, David Hallowes and Sam Norton, in the court after the judgment.

She did not comment when she later emerged outside, wrapping her scarf around her face, as she was ushered to a waiting car.

Ristevski kept up the pretence that his wife had gone for a walk to clear her head after a disagreement for months after he killed her, appearing with their daughter Sarah in the days afterwards to publicly appeal for help finding her.

By then, he had already disposed of her in the bush, with her body not found until the following February, at a spot northwest of Melbourne just off the Calder Freeway.

The prosecution has argued sentencing judge Christopher Beale did not give sufficient weight to Ristevski's silence over the killing, and his endless lies to lead police off his trail.

The site where Karen Ristevski’s body was found at Mount Macedon. Picture: Nicole Garmston
The site where Karen Ristevski’s body was found at Mount Macedon. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Ristevski only reported his wife missing days later, telling police she walked out of their home to cool off after they had a fight about finances relating to her fashion store, Bella Bleu.

He continued with this version of events, even to family and friends, while detectives built their case against him, following his every move.

The charade persisted when Mrs Ristevski's body was found eight months later, wedged between tree trunks and covered with shrubbery at Mt Macedon.

He even carried her coffin at her funeral.

To this day, only Ristevski knows what happened to his wife of 27 years.

Sarah Ristevski walks from the Supreme court after attending her father's sentencing hearing. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Sarah Ristevski walks from the Supreme court after attending her father's sentencing hearing. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

Her body was so badly decomposed, her cause of death could not be determined.

His "silence" on how he killed his wife was one of the factors the prosecution argues Justice Beale gave insufficient weight in sentencing.

They said Ristevski should not get the full benefit of a discount for his 11th-hour guilty plea on the eve of his murder trial to the lesser charge of manslaughter, because his failure to say what happened showed little remorse.

Karen Ristevski's family and friend's are haunted by not knowing how she met her fate, and have no closure, the prosecution said.

They also submitted Justice Beale failed to fix a sentence commensurate with the circumstances of the offending; gave too much weight to the lack of information about the unlawful and dangerous act; and didn't give sufficient weight to the principles of general deterrence, specific deterrence, denunciation and just punishment.

The maximum penalty for manslaughter is 20 years.

Barrister David Hallowes, SC, for Ristevski, described the sentencing remarks of Justice Beale as "impeccable", arguing he had taken into consideration the aggravating factors, including Ristevski's lies and dumping of his wife's body, balanced with his good character, no priors and prospects for rehabilitation.

"We say the sentence is within range," Mr Hallowes said.

rebekah.cavanagh@news.com.au

 

*For 24-hour domestic violence support  call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.

Karen Ristevski. Picture: Supplied
Karen Ristevski. Picture: Supplied
Borce has killed his wife several days before making this public appeal with Sarah. Picture: Sarah Matray
Borce has killed his wife several days before making this public appeal with Sarah. Picture: Sarah Matray

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