A man who murdered his ex-girlfriend and her daughter has surprised a Sydney court by attempting a last-minute back-flip on his guilty plea, before a Supreme Court Justice jailed him for life.
In July, Daniel Holdom pleaded guilty to murdering 20-year-old Karlie Pearce-Stevenson and her two-year-old daughter Khandalyce.
Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s body was found in the Belanglo State Forrest, near Sydney, in 2010 and the toddler’s remains were found in a suitcase on a remote highway in South Australia in 2015.
Holdom’s lawyer on Friday made a surprise request in the NSW Supreme Court to revoke his guilty plea for killing Khandalyce, saying his client had trouble “digesting” the case against him.
But in rejecting the application, Justice Robert Hulme noted Holdom had an experienced legal team and he was not satisfied the 44-year-old did not understand what he was pleading to.
There were applause from the public gallery when the sentence was handed down.
Justice Hulme said there was evidence Holdom used extreme force against Ms Pearce-Stevenson, stomped on her body, violated it in “a callous and sadistic way” and took trophy photos of it.
“His treatment of her showed complete disdain for her existence as a human being,” he said.
“To him, she was just flesh with a life that could be extinguished for his vile pleasure.”
Justice Hulme said Holdom had a history of violence towards women and had shown no remorse.
Justice Hulme described Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s murder as a crime of “extreme gravity and appalling depravity”.
Holdom shook his head in the dock during the judge’s remarks.
Justice Hulme said Holdom used Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s bank account after her death and that his new girlfriend claimed the dead woman’s social security benefits.
Holdom also used his ex-girlfriend’s phone to text her family giving the impression she was alive, and fuelling her relatives’ torment and despair at not knowing where she was.
Justice Hulme said Holdom had a difficult childhood with a brutal stepfather who violently abused him from the age of four to 15.
He said Holdom had been unemployed for some time and had a problem with drug use at the time of the murders.
The court heard he had a criminal record in NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory.