A judge has lashed ‘cruel’ Borce Ristevski for acting as pallbearer at his wife’s funeral and tormenting her family with his web of lies – before admitting to the crime with a lesser sentence of manslaughter.
Ristevski was sentenced in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Thursday to nine years behind bars for killing his wife and lying about it for almost three years.
But the 55-year-old, who has already served some time, may walk free from jail in less than five years.
Ristevski has not revealed how or why he killed his dress-shop owner wife Karen in June 2016, before disposing her body in between two logs and covering it with foliage.
A judge has lashed ‘cruel’ Borce Ristevski for acting as pallbearer at his wife’s funeral and tormenting her family with his web of lies
Wife killer: Borce Ristevski arriving at court to be sentenced for killing his wife Karen
Passing sentence to a packed courtroom on Thursday morning, Justice Christopher Beale castigated Ristevski for his ‘rank deceit,’ saying ‘for years, you continued spinning your web of lies’.
‘When Karen’s body was discovered after eight months, you acted as a pallbearer, playing the part of the innocent grieving widower.’
Justice Beale criticised Ristevski for not revealing how or why he killed his wife.
‘You may have turned off the road of deceit but you have not taken the high road of full and frank disclosure consistent with true remorse,’ he said.
‘You acted as a pall-bearer, playing the part of the innocent, grieving widower.
‘The pretence, the rank deceit, only ended a few weeks ago when you pleaded guilty to manslaughter.’
Borce Ristevski (centre) learned his fate on Thursday after entering a shock guilty plea last month to reveal he killed his wife Karen (left with their daughter Sarah, right)
The court heard the killer’s 24-year-old daughter Sarah (pictured today) declined to provide a victim impact statement and instead gave a ‘glowing’ character reference to try to lessen her father’s sentence
He described Ristevski’s actions as ‘cruel’ when he told Karen’s family not to speak with media or police, news.com.au reported.
‘Rather than making any meaningful efforts to locate your wife, you would make angry calls to (members of Karen’s family) demanding they stop talking to police,’ the judge said.
Ristevski would ‘rant and rave about police and media’ while knowing how his wife died and where her body was.
The judge said he did not know enough about how the killing happened to determine whether the crime was mid-range or upper-range manslaughter.
He said it was certainly not low-range because it was a case of domestic violence against a ‘devoted’ wife who ‘should have lived for many more years.’
‘This is a case of domestic violence, it’s a case of a killing taking place in woman’s home where she should feel safest,’ he said.
Ristevski killed his wife Karen, 47, at their Melbourne home in June 2016 before dumping her body in a national park where it was found eight months later.
Wife killer Borce Ristevski is led from a prison van into court as the father-of-two prepares to learn his fate after shock guilty plea
He feigned innocence for almost three years, lying to the police, the public and his daughter, even carrying his wife’s coffin at her funeral, until pleading guilty to manslaughter on the eve of his murder trial last month.
At around 10am on Thursday, Ristevski, wearing a suit and white shirt with no tie while sporting a greying beard, was escorted from a police van into a packed courtroom by four corrections officers.
The court heard his 24-year-old daughter Sarah declined to provide a victim impact statement and instead gave a ‘glowing’ character reference to try to lessen her father’s sentence.
The judge said she did this ‘out of love for her father.’
‘I mean no criticism for Sarah – anyone with a modicum of compassion would find her predicament an agonising one,’ he said.
The character reference read during a pre-sentence plea hearing at the Supreme Court of Victoria last month said: ‘If I could use a few words to describe my dad’s personality they would be loving, caring, sympathetic, protective and charismatic.’
‘Growing up as a family my mum, dad and I were completely inseparable.
This is the spot where Mrs Ristevski’s body was found by horticulturalists in February 2017
Borce Ristevski is pictured with his daughter Sarah after appealing for information on his wife’s whereabouts in July 2016
‘We would spend all of our spare time together and family was everything to us. The love we had for each other was unexplainable, and everyone in our lives saw it.’
Sarah said she had never witnessed her father act violently towards her mother.
‘My dad has not had any prior convictions or issues with the law, and I can confidently say that in my 23 years and I have never witnessed any form of violence between my mum and dad,’ she said.
Ristevski was when sentenced to six years without parole. With 491 days behind bars already, he could be free before his 60th birthday.
After the sentencing, Mrs Ristevki’s brother Stephen Williams gave a brief statement outside Victoria’s Supreme Court.
Stephen Williams (centre), brother of Karen Ristevski departs the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne
Mrs Ristevki’s brother Stephen Williams (pictured today) gave in a brief statement outside Victoria’s Supreme Court in which he slammed the sentence
He said: ‘Nothing is going to bring Karen back but today was about justice.
‘We didn’t get justice today, at all’.
‘As a society, at some stage in regards to domestic violence we must make a stand.’
Ahead of the five-week scheduled murder trial in March, Justice Beale ruled that Ristevski’s actions after the killing, when he played the role of grieving husband, could not be used to prove ‘murderous intent’.
A new indictment with the lesser charge of manslaughter was subsequently filed and Ristevski pleaded guilty.
TIMELINE OF KAREN RISTEVSKI’S DEATH AND BRINGING HER KILLER BORCE TO JUSTICE
Karen Ristevski with her daughter Sarah
June 29, 2016
Karen Ristevski last seen at her Melbourne home in Avondale Heights
Her mobile phone pings off a tower in the Macedon Ranges
A car similar to her black Mercedes SLK coupe is spotted by CCTV cameras near Diggers Rest railway station
July 14, 2016
Husband Borce Ristevski and daughter Sarah make a tearful plea for information to help find their missing wife and mother
December 19, 2016
Police search grassland, waterways, creeks and farms
February 20, 2017
Karen Ristevski’s body is found at the Mount Macedon Regional Park
March 6, 2017
Funeral service held with Borce Ristevski a pallbearer and daughter Sarah leading the procession
August 31, 2017
Police recreate the journey of Ms Ristevski on the day she went missing in a black Mercedes, identical to hers
December 13, 2017
Borce Ristevski is charged with murder and faces court where a lawyer indicates a not-guilty plea. He is remanded in custody
April 18, 2018
Ristevski returns to court where it’s revealed detectives tapped his phone calls and planted listening devices as they investigated the alleged killing, compiling a 22,000-page evidence brief
Ristevski is granted state-funded legal aid as he fights the allegations
July 16, 2018
Ristevski’s two-week committal hearing begins and later hears evidence from his daughter Sarah who said he was never ‘aggressive’ towards her mum.
August 2, 2018
Ristevski is ordered to stand trial in the Supreme Court, charged with murdering his wife
December 4, 2018
A five-week trial for Ristevski is set for March 2019
March 13, 2019
A day before a jury is due to be empanelled for his murder trial, prosecutors withdraw the murder charge after a judge’s ruling.
Borce Ristevski pleads guilty to the alternative charge of manslaughter