Mum stabbed until her head came off: Court told

 

WARNING: Extremely graphic

A young Sydney woman told police she only stopped stabbing her mother during a heated argument when her head fell off and her eyeballs popped out of their sockets, a court has been told.

Jessica Camilleri, now 27, is on trial in the NSW Supreme Court after pleading not guilty by way of mental impairment to murdering her mum Rita, 57, in the kitchen of their St Claire home in July last year.

In his opening address on Tuesday Crown prosecutor Tony McCarthy told the jury Camilleri had afterwards claimed to detectives her mother had said to her "I've had a gutful of you" before a physical confrontation erupted involving knives.

Jessica Camilleri has plead not guilty by way of mental impairment to murdering her mum.
Jessica Camilleri has plead not guilty by way of mental impairment to murdering her mum.

"(Camilleri) said she grabbed about three knifes altogether, two of which broke in the struggle, she estimated that she had stabbed her mother about 85 times and everywhere: on her hands, eyes, arms, nose," Mr McCarthy said.

"She said (Rita) finally released her grip on her hair when she had been killed, she told police that in the struggle (Rita's) head came off and it was only then that (she) stopped stabbing her.

"She said her eyeballs then popped out of her head, her tongue came out of her mouth and her nose came off."

The court was told earlier in the night Rita had phoned an on-call medical service because her daughter was feeling unwell, but a doctor had left their home without giving any consultation because she thought Camilleri was substance-affected and felt uncomfortable.

About two hours later Camilleri walked onto the street wearing a nightdress and covered in blood before screaming at a neighbour for help, the court heard.

 

Rita Camilleri, 57, who was killed in the kitchen of her St Claire home in July last year.
Rita Camilleri, 57, who was killed in the kitchen of her St Claire home in July last year.

Mr McCarthy told the jury they would hear an audio recording from a phone call Camilleri made on her mother's phone to police while standing near a neighbour's yard.

"You'll hear the accused say, I expect, 'I just kept stabbing and stabbing and stabbing her, I took off her head'," Mr McCarthy said.

"She also said that she took her mother's head with her when she left her house to show her neighbour."

When police arrived shortly afterwards Camilleri immediately told them she had killed her mother and pointed out her head on a nearby footpath, the court heard.

Officers then found Rita's decapitated body lying face down between a cutlery drawer and a pantry in her kitchen.

Underneath her neck were two intact eye balls, to the right of her leg was a human tongue and near the fridge was the tip of a nose.

A vigil in memory of Rita Camilleri after she was killed in a frenzied attack. Picture: Christian Gilles
A vigil in memory of Rita Camilleri after she was killed in a frenzied attack. Picture: Christian Gilles

The jury was told there would be no dispute in the trial Camilleri killed her mother but that they would need to decide whether she was guilty of murder or the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Camilleri's defence barrister Nathan Steel told the court that due to her mental condition she had an impaired capacity at the time of the killing.

The court was told Camilleri had previously been diagnosed with multiple conditions including dyslexia, ADHD and a rage disorder.

She also had a history of harassing and threatening random people over the phone, including repeatedly threatening to cut a victim's head off.

The jury heard Rita was Camilleri's primary care giver and was said to have been sometimes protective and defensive of her behaviour.

Camilleri's sister Kristi Torrisi told the court her younger sibling enjoyed watching horror movies including Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

"She liked horror movies where there was killing and dismemberment … she would pause, rewind to certain parts," she said.

The trial continues.


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