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

Borce Ristevski to stand trial for murder

BORCE Ristevski has been ordered to stand trial for murder over the death of his wife Karen.

Mr Ristevski has entered a not guilty plea.

Ristevski, 54, is accused of murdering his wife, Karen, on June 29, 2016. Police allege he killed the 47-year-old at their Avondale Heights home, in Melbourne's north, after a fight about their finances.

Mr Ristevski is accused of bundling his wife's body into the boot of her Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster and driving to Mount Macedon where it is alleged he dumped the body in bushland to be discovered by a passer-by eight months later.

Magistrate Suzanne Cameron listened to two weeks of witness evidence at Mr Ristevski's committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court. She delivered her findings this morning.

Mr Ristevski has strenuously denied any involvement in his wife's disappearance or death.

On the day Ms Ristevski went missing, Mr Ristevski turned his phone off for several hours.

Before it was turned off, both Mr Ristevski's phone and Ms Ristevski's phone registered "pings" with mobile phone towers along the Calder Freeway in the direction of Mount Macedon.

His own daughter, Sarah, questioned why he turned his phone off during a conversation recorded by police after a warrant was issued granting special surveillance powers.

 

Borce Ristevski has been accused of murdering his wife. Picture: Nicole Garmston
Borce Ristevski has been accused of murdering his wife. Picture: Nicole Garmston

 

"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," Sarah, 22, said to her father before he was arrested and charged with his wife's murder.

Mr 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," Mr Ristevski said.

On the night of Ms Ristevski's disappearance, Mr Ristevski tried to drive for ride-sharing company Uber but could not get the app to work on his phone. He told police he drove around for 30 minutes but did not pick up any passengers.

Later in the evening, Mr Ristevski had dinner with Sarah and his parents. When they asked where Karen was, he told them she was "at the shop", referring to the couple's boutique clothing store Bella Bleu.

Mr Ristevski's lawyers have conceded there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial on a manslaughter charge, but they want the murder charge dropped.

David Hallowes SC asked that a lesser charge be considered.

"The submission we make is that the evidence is not of sufficient weight to support a conviction on the charge of murder, and therefore Mr Ristevski should be discharged on that charge," he said.

"We can see the evidence is of sufficient weight for a charge of manslaughter. In no way is that a confession from Mr Ristevski or me that he was involved in any way in the killing of his wife. It's simply an admission there is sufficient evidence that he be committed to stand trial on the charge of manslaughter.

 

Sarah Ristevski has consistently defended her father. Picture: Daniel Pockett/AAP
Sarah Ristevski has consistently defended her father. Picture: Daniel Pockett/AAP

 

"On the evidence as a whole, it would not be reasonably open for a jury to infer that, if they found Mr Ristevski had killed his wife, that he intended to kill her or cause her really serious injury," he said.

"There was no evidence of violence in the relationship or any threat of violence.

"There was no financial benefit to be gained by the accused from the death of his wife.

"There was no financial incentive whatsoever … no evidence suggesting any life insurance policies.

"The cause of death is unascertained. The evidence simply doesn't assist in any way in terms of establishing how death was caused."

But prosecutor Matt Fisher argued Mr Ristevski's conduct after his wife went missing points to murder.

"In this case, the post-offence conduct is so sustained, there is so much of and it's so significant that the only conclusion available is that the accused man had murderous intent," he said.

"This isn't just an accidental killing that ends up in the death of his wife and he decides, through panic or fear, to dispose of her body. He goes to significant lengths. It goes well beyond that.

"It starts within a very short time after the death of Karen Ristevski and doesn't end there. It goes on and on and on."

 

rohan.smith1@news.com.au | @ro_smith


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