A man who “never showed remorse” after “brutally” stabbing a teenager to death in Shepparton, Victoria, more than 30 years ago has been jailed.
The body of Michelle Buckingham was found by the side of a country road, two weeks after she disappeared after a night out in October 1983.
In sentencing, Justice Robert Osborn said the 16-year-old had been stabbed at least 19 times in “an act of despicable cruelty”.
Steven Bradley, from Queensland, was arrested last year and charged with Michelle’s murder after the cold case was reopened in 2012.
He was 21 years old at the time of the murder.
“You have never shown remorse for the horrific savagery of your crime,” Justice Osborn said.
“Its casual and heartless quality is, in a fundamental sense, totally abhorrent.
“Not only did you kill a young woman at the start of her adult life but you caused permanent emotional damage to those who love her.”
Bradley, who was found guilty of murder in October, will be eligible for parole after 21 years.
Jurors were told a crucial piece of evidence was Bradley’s confession to his brother-in-law, Norm Gribble, that he and two friends killed Michelle, before her body was even found.
The court heard Bradley told Mr Gribble: “We killed a girl last night.”
His brother-in-law kept that secret for 30 years, for fear of tearing his family apart.
But in 2012 he was prompted by a series of articles about Michelle’s death in The Shepparton News to contact police, and the cold case was reopened.
Michelle Buckingham’s family ‘happy’ and hopeful
Michelle’s mother, Elvira, died from a suspected heart attack just five days before the trial was due to start.
Ms Dewar thanked Ron Iddles, who led the murder investigation, and Tammy Mills, the journalist behind the newspaper articles, and their teams.
Mr Buckingham said the family was pleased with the sentence.
“We’re just extremely happy and hopefully we can get things through our head today and take it from there,” he said.
He said the family planned to visit the grave of Michelle’s mother, Elvira, on Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ll all probably head somewhere together and have a chat, let it all sink in, have a drink and just process it I suppose,” he said.