A man who snatched, tortured and brutally murdered Victorian mother-of-two Karen Chetcuti has been jailed for life without the chance of parole.
Michael Cardamone, 50, attacked his well-liked neighbour at her rural Whorouly home and held her prisoner for hours before burning her to death in remote bushland in January 2016.
Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry on Friday sentenced Cardamone to life in prison with no minimum term for the “extraordinarily vicious, callous and thoroughly unprovoked” murder, meaning the killer will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
“To refuse (a minimum term) is is an exceptional step and a dreadful punishment, but this is a dreadful crime,” the judge said during sentencing at Wangaratta.
“Sometimes a step towards mercy is too difficult to take.
“I believed I had ceased to be amazed by the level of violence that men are capable of towards women. But what you did to Karen Chetcuti … did indeed amaze me.”
Ms Chetcuti’s body was discovered by search teams near Lake Buffalo five days after the 49-year-old went missing on January 12, 2016.
She had been watering her vegetable garden on the night she was attacked, then sedated with horse tranquilliser, tied up with rope and duct tape.
She was injected with battery acid, sexually assaulted, bashed and finally doused in petrol and set alight while still alive.
“Your conduct was extraordinarily vicious, callous and thoroughly unprovoked,” Justice Lasry said.
“It was, quite frankly, horrifying, depraved and disgusting.”
Cardamone lied to police before and after his arrest, claiming another man – who helped torch Ms Chetcuti’s car – was responsible for the killing.
While in custody, Cardamone tried to arrange for a hit man, who was actually an undercover policeman, to murder and frame the man he had accused.
He eventually pleaded guilty to murder and incitement to murder in June.
At the time of the killing, Cardamone was on parole after serving nine years in jail for the 2005 rape of a 15-year-old girl.