Borce Ristevski will be sentenced today for killing his wife Karen. Picture: David Crosling
Borce Ristevski will be sentenced today for killing his wife Karen. Picture: David Crosling

Ristevski sentenced for killing wife

Melbourne man Borce Ristevski who killed his wife Karen and dumped her body in bushland has been sentenced for her manslaughter.

Supreme Court Justice Christopher Beale jailed Ristevski for nine years. He will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least six years.

Ristevski has already served 491 days of pre-sentence detention meaning the Melbourne father could be out of prison in less than five years.

There were audible gasps in Melbourne's Supreme Court today as Justice Beale handed down his sentence.

Ristevski did not change his expression as he was sentenced to almost a decade for killing his wife, standing with his hands clasped in front of him before guards led him away.

If Ristevski had not pleaded guilty, Justice Beale said he would have imposed a sentence of 10 years.

Borce Ristevski arrives to the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne today. Picture: AAP Image/James Ross
Borce Ristevski arrives to the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne today. Picture: AAP Image/James Ross

Before sentencing Ristevski, Justice Beale lashed the Melbourne father and told the Supreme Court "your plea of guilty does not demonstrate remorse".

"No sentence I impose can undo the suffering you have caused and continue to cause to those who knew and loved Karen," he said.

Despite that, Justice Beale told the court Ristevski's plea of guilty was "still worthy of a significant discount".

Ristevski's guilty plea "saved the family a painful trial", which Justice Beale estimated would've gone for at least five weeks.

Justice Beale addressed the glowing character reference their daughter Sarah had presented to the court in defence of her father.

"Anyone with a modicum of compassion must understand her predicament is an agonising one," he said.

"Regrettably, the sentence I pass onto you will impact her grief."

Justice Beale told the court Ristevski's guilty plea would not result in the discounted sentence he might otherwise expect because "you have not revealed how or why" Karen was killed.

"Your victim was your wife of 27 years ... 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.

Justice Beale said he was unable to know if Ristevski's killing of his wife was in the "upper range of seriousness for manslaughter" because of this secrecy.

Regardless, Justice Beale said, "this is a serious case of domestic violence".

"Karen was killed by you, by an unlawful and dangerous act in your home, in a place that should've been a sanctuary for her," he said.

Justice Beale found Ristevski's prospects for rehabiliation were "good - given your lack of criminal history and unchallenged character references".

The ruling brings to an end the very public saga, but the speculation about exactly what happened the morning of June 29, 2016 will continue.

Though Ristevski admitted to killing his wife, he never revealed a motive. He kept guarded the means by which the boutique clothing store owner died. And he will likely never tell that part of the story.

Police know the circumstances surrounding how Ristevski attempted to cover up his wife's death.

Ristevski crept out the back door and into the garage where the body of his wife was lifeless inside the boot of her car.

He climbed inside the front seat of the black Mercedes Benz SLK coupe and reversed out of the couple's Avondale Heights driveway.

He drove north to Diggers Rest, looking for a place to dump the mother of his only daughter, before realising he had made a critical tactical mistake.

He switched off Karen's phone but it was too late. It had been pinging to mobile phone towers along the road to Mount Macedon Regional Park where the 47-year-old's body was callously discarded between logs and partially covered with branches.

The 55-year-old had killed his life partner but he wasn't ready to admit it. For almost three years he lied to his family, his friends and to Victoria Police detectives who always suspected he was responsible.

Much of the Ristevski family is divided. Karen's brother Stephen Williams loathes the man who took his sister away.

Karen's aunt Patricia Gray never wants to see him again. Through tears last month she scolded him for the way he acted after Karen was killed, before declaring "I can never forgive you".

Another of Karen's aunts, Marguerite Knight, said noted that Ristevski "never once" said he missed Karen.

"What monster does this unforgivable act then walks away? How did you get so cruel?" she said.

Karen's stepson Anthony Rickard says the man who helped raise him is a "coward" and a "liar" and deserves everything he gets.

But Karen and Borce's daughter Sarah Ristevski is sticking by her dad. She speaks to him daily and last month submitted to the court a glowing character reference filled with memories of her "extremely lucky" childhood.

She said she hopes one day to experience the "love" her parents had for each other.

"My dad has not had any prior convictions or issues with the law, and I can confidently say that in my 23 years I have never witnessed any form of violence between my mum and dad," she wrote.

Karen Ristevski with her husband Borce Ristevski and their daughter Sarah. Supplied
Karen Ristevski with her husband Borce Ristevski and their daughter Sarah. Supplied

"The circumstances have left me without both of my parents, and I know there is nothing that I can do to change that but all I can try to do is communicate the truth of how good of a dad and husband he was to my mum and I."

Ristevski's behaviour after killing Karen let detectives to name him as their primary suspect. He organised a press conference not far from the couple's home in the days after Karen's disappearance, pleading for help from the public to find her.

The press conference abruptly ended when a journalist asked: "Did you kill your wife, Borce?"

Ristevski told detectives he did not know where Karen went. But his alibi never added up. He said he drove her car on the morning she went missing because he wanted to get petrol.

Later he said he went to get shisha, a reference to smoking tobacco.

He said he went driving for ride share company Uber later in the day but did not pick up any passengers.

He went to dinner with Sarah and his parents that same night but insisted Karen was "at the shop".

Sarah had questions. In a conversation at the family home that was recorded on a police listening device, Sarah asked her dad to explain why his story had so many holes in it.

"You know what I want to know? You're out of the house for two hours, your telephone is off for two hours. You were driving and you turned your telephone off," she said.

Ristevski told her: "That's what (police) are trying to plant out there, Sarah."

"That doesn't make sense," she said.

"Nothing makes sense, they're making it up as they go along." Ristevski said.

Prosecutors revealed in court last year that Ristevski used the family iPad to make a number of searches in the days after Karen disappeared.

Among them were "how to do google tracking history", "where to find map that shows google is tracking your location", "find location history in google maps on iPhone" and "Apple Maps timeline google search".

Defying police orders, he staged another press conference to clear the air. He told reporters in August, 2016 that the couple had fought the night before Karen disappeared.

Their business, Bella Bleu, was struggling, he said.

On February 20, 2017, when a body was found at Mount Macedon, Channel Nine Melbourne bureau chief Jonathan Gwinner called Ristevski to tell him about the news.

At the time, it was not known that the body was Karen's.

The initial response from Ristevski was: "Well, it's got nothing to do with me."

The charade ended last month when Ristevski pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He was due to face a murder trial within days when the prosecution case fell apart.

Justice Beale said there was insufficient evidence to prove murderous intent. | @ro_smith