Ristevski’s warning to daughter Sarah
BORCE Ristevski constructed a web of deceit as investigators zeroed in on him over the disappearance of his wife Karen, a newly published judgment has revealed.
The Melbourne father of two pleaded guilty to manslaughter last week over the death of his 47-year-old wife, Karen, who went missing in June 2016. Her body was found dumped in bushland eight months after her disappearance.
Now court documents have revealed the lengths the 55-year-old went to avoid detection for the crime, including changing his phone number multiple times and warning his daughter not to trust police.
But despite this string of actions, Justice Christopher Beale ultimately ruled there was not evidence to prove he intended to murder his wife.
INSIDE RISTEVSKI'S WEB OF DECEIT
Ristevski took numerous measures to avoid being held accountable in the wake of his wife's death.
According to court documents, the 55-year-old changed his mobile number twice to avoid being scrutinised by police.
A summary of the evidence revealed a series of phone conversations he had with family and friends after he claimed she walked out of their Avondale Heights home due to a fight about finances on June 29, 2016.
In one taped conversation, Ristevski said he wanted nothing to do with the police and knew "they're listening". In another call, he told his daughter Sarah that "(police) don't give a f**k".
He told one friend he went to Lalor the morning Karen went missing, but didn't tell police. He instructed the friend: "Make sure you don't repeat anything" and "Make sure you don't say anything … don't let … tell 'em anythin' that I spoke to you about, nothing at all."
In November 2016, he persuaded his daughter Sarah's boyfriend to buy him a new SIM card. He later confirmed he had obtained a new number because his other one was "bein' tracked".
In February 2017, he said he needed another SIM card as his current one had been tapped.
That same month, he received a call from A Current Affair advising him that a body had been discovered at Mount Macedon, to which he replied: "Well, it's got nothing to do with me."
The documents also revealed Ristevski's story about Karen's disappearance kept changing. He initially told police Karen went upstairs to cool off after an argument about the couple's finances. He later said she immediately left the house through the front door. In another instance, he claimed she went out through the garage.
WHY MURDER CHARGE WAS THROWN OUT
Ristevski pleaded guilty on Wednesday to the manslaughter of his wife on June 29, 2016, after prosecutors withdrew a murder charge the night before the trial.
The prosecution sought to prove that Ristevski intended to murder his wife by pointing to his actions after her death.
They argued one would have expected him to "raise the alarm" if he had killed her unintentionally, rather than "bundle her body into the boot, drive to a remote area, conceal the body and lie about the circumstances of his wife's disappearance to family, friends and investigators".
But Justice Christopher Beale ruled a lack of evidence pointing to murderous intent made it difficult to proceed with a murder charge at trial.
"I considered there to be much force in those submissions," Justice Beale said in his written ruling.
"They made it difficult to see how a jury could properly find that the only reasonable explanation for the post offence conduct was that the accused was conscious of having killed his wife with murderous intent."
The judge ruled Ristevski could have feared the unlawful killing of his wife would "attract a substantial prison term and cause irreparable damage to his relationship with his daughter, with whom he was close". These fears, the judge found, didn't prove the killing was intentional.
The couple's finances also played a significant role in the judge's decision, with Ristevski's lawyers arguing their financial situation would deteriorate with Karen's death.