Sarah Ristevski isn’t ’emotionally ready’ to accept her father brutally killed her mother – and insists she will love and support him when he walks free from prison.
She spoke publicly about Karen Ristevski’s death for the first time on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes on Sunday night, nearly four years after her father Borce Ristevski killed her at their Melbourne home and dumped her body in bushland.
‘I don’t like to talk about what happened. We don’t talk about it. We don’t think about it,’ she said during the interview, at times fighting back tears and always maintaining she would stand by her father.
‘Even though he’s pleaded guilty I find it hard to comprehend that he is guilty. I think if he were in my position he would support me.’
Miss Ristevski said Borce would have her continued support when he was freed from prison.
‘He’s my father. I have one parent left… I loved him before, I love him now and I’ll love him in 11 years when he’s home,’ she said.
‘When you’re in my position, I think when your mind is all over the place – different things (like) how my mum died. It’s not on my… I just can’t go there.
‘My heart is saying, I can’t comprehend. I can’t think about why my mum died.’
Pictured: Sarah with her father, Borce, as a young girl. She said she has always loved her father and always will
While she stood by the wife-killer, who last year shocked Australia with an 11th hour guilty plea to manslaughter, a renowned psychologist believes Miss Ristevski is under her father’s spell.
Criminal behavioural analyst Laura Richards told the program Miss Ristevski’s unwavering support suggests she has been manipulated.
‘I believe that Sarah has been in a bubble, in a vacuum, in a highly unusual situation, he’s the one in her ear constantly,’ she said.
Karen was killed by her husband at their home Avondale Heights, Melbourne, in June 2016.
He feigned innocence, lied to the police, the public and his daughter, and even carried his wife’s coffin at her funeral, until admitting to manslaughter on the eve of his murder trial in 2019.
In the 60 Minutes interview, which reportedly earned her a six figure pay packet, Miss Ristevski said she ‘wouldn’t go there’ when further pressed on her father’s guilt.
Borce Ristevski and his daughter Sarah in 2016 before he was convicted of killing his wife
British psychologist and criminal behavioural analyst Laura Richards believes Miss Ristevski has been manipulated
But Ms Richards believes Miss Ristevski will one day come to terms with what her father did to her mother – and all that he deprived her of in the process.
‘As contact lessens between [Borce] and [Sarah], as her relationships strengthen with other people, [she] will think of things in a very different way, ”how could he have done this? How could he deprive me of my mother?” And suddenly these emotions come to the fore. And I believe that that will happen,’ she said.
The graphic designer still speaks with and visits her father in prison. She said they discussed her interview – the first she’s offered since her mother’s death.
She denied she was ‘under his spell’ and said the interview was an opportunity to speak her truth.
‘He tells me I’m my own person and that’s how he raised me. For the interview, he told me to just be truthful and be myself. That’s all he asked,’ she said.
Pictured: Sarah with her parents Borce and Karen during happier times. Borce has since confessed to the killing of Karen
Karen Ristevski’s 24-year-old daughter Sarah has spoken publicly for the first time about her mother’s brutal death
Miss Ristevski famously stood by her father even when he pleaded guilty to killing her mother after three grueling years of denying any involvement.
He has never offered any further details about her death.
She opted against providing the court a victim impact statement for the loss of her mother and instead offered a glowing character reference for her father to ‘highlight the man she knows’.
The 24-year-old said she had no desire to help the officers who had been horrible to her by providing a victim impact statement, and said when she and her father initially tried to report her mother missing, they were dismissed by officers.
At the time, both she and her father were worried, but they were told Karen was likely ‘playing the pokies’ and to get in contact again if they hadn’t heard from her by midnight.
Miss Ristevski also used the interview as an opportunity to rubbish rumours her step-brother had a romantic relationship with her mother.
‘It could never be true… It is unforgivable,’ she said of the explosive claims before confirming she no longer has a relationship with her brother.
She has since insisted she can ‘see the sadness [Borce feels] at the loss of my mum’.
‘We both have the same amount of sadness. He loved my mum… He misses her every day,’ she said while holding back tears.
Dress shop owner Karen disappeared from the family home in Avondale Heights, north-west Melbourne, on June 29, 2016. Pictured with Borce and Sarah
Ristevski was jailed last April for at least six years after admitting to the manslaughter of his wife of 27 years.
Police revealed they had tapped phone conversations during the investigation which formed part of a 22,000-page evidence brief.
When Sarah asked her father where her mum was on the day of her disappearance, he told her she had gone for a walk after an argument. She said she could tell he was worried.
‘I felt like we were just zombies, just not sleeping, not eating, we just paused in that day. It just felt like we were trapped in a nightmare,’ Sarah told the program on Sunday night.
In December, Karen’s family’s appeal over the sentence was successful and Ristevski’s jail term was extended to 13 years, ten without the chance for parole.
Miss Ristevski said despite her father serving a sentence, she feels like her life, too, has been put on hold.
Borce Ristevski, 55, killed his wife Karen (left) at their home Avondale Heights, Melbourne, in June 2016, before dumping her body in a regional park. Pictured with their daughter Sarah, who was 21 at the time
‘My dad is serving the time but I am as well… The realisation that I’m kind of alone.’
She eventually confessed that she did once ask her father if he had hurt her mother, but said he denied any involvement in her death.
‘He’s my dad, so nothing’s changed,’ she said. ‘I don’t know what to believe.’
Miss Ristevski tries her best to avoid thinking about her mother’s death at all.
‘I hate thinking about what’s happened. I’d rather think of the better times. I just think its tiring,’ she said. ‘I can’t move forward if I’m stuck in the past.’
Her life goal, she said, is to make both of her parents proud of her.
Borce Ristevski (pictured) was a pallbearer at the funeral of his wife Karen in March 2017
KAREN RISTEVSKI: HOW THE MYSTERY UNFOLDED
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 spotted by CCTV cameras near Diggers Rest railway station
December 19, 2016
* Police search grassland, waterways, creeks and farms
February 20, 2017
* Karen Ristevski’s body found at Mount Macedon Regional Park
A hiker stumbled upon Karen’s body between two logs in the Mount Macedon National Park on February 20, 2017
March 6, 2017
* Funeral service held with husband Borce Ristevski a pallbearer, while daughter Sarah leads 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 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 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
Locked up: Borce Ristevski
March 12, 2019
* Prosecutors suffer a major setback.
A Supreme Court judge rules evidence about Ristevski’s conduct after Karen’s death could not be used as evidence of he had alleged ‘murderous intent’
March 13, 2019
* Ristevski’s charge is downgraded and he pleads guilty to Karen’s manslaughter death
April 18, 2019
* Ristevski is sentenced to a nine year jail term, with a six year non-parole period
May 13, 2019
* Prosecutors launch bid to increase Ristevski’s jail term, labelling his sentence ‘manifestly inadequate’.
His sentence is increased to 13 years, with a non-parole period of 10.
Source: AAP, Daily Mail Australia