Melbourne man Borce Ristevski has had his prison sentence increased from nine to 13 years for the 2016 manslaughter of his wife Karen, after a Court of Appeal ruling.
Karen Ristevski’s body was found in a nature park in Macedon, north of Melbourne, in January 2017, eight months after she disappeared from their Avondale Heights home.
Borce Ristevski, 55, was originally sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter just before his murder trial was due to begin earlier this year.
He must now serve a non-parole period of 10 years instead of six.
The Court of Appeal decision was a majority ruling – with two justices supporting a new jail term of 13 years and the third saying a 12-year jail term was suitable.
“As Mr Ristevski had not shown one scintilla of remorse, Justice [Simon] Whelan and I could not take remorse into account as a mitigating factor,” Chief Justice Anne Ferguson told the court.
Justice Ferguson called it an “atypical” case because there was no evidence of earlier domestic violence or discord.
“There was no apparent reason for, or context to, what Mr Ristevski did,” she said.
“Justice Whelan and I observed Mr Ristevski did not simply maintain his right to silence but took immediate, positive steps to avoid his crime being discovered.
“This included concealing his wife’s body and engaging in an elaborate course of deception.
“Ms Ristevski should have been safe in her own home.”
Justice Phillip Priest, who decided 12 years was an appropriate sentence, said the sentence imposed was “far too low” to reflect general deterrence and just punishment.
“This court’s intervention is required to ensure that proper sentencing standards are maintained,” Justice Priest wrote in his ruling.
He said a particularly “unpleasant aspect” of the case was Ristevski’s “deceit”.
“In full knowledge that he had killed his wife and disposed of her body, the respondent was a pallbearer at his wife’s funeral … and comforted a number of her relatives and friends,” Justice Priest wrote.
During the appeal hearing in November, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) argued the original sentence was “manifestly inadequate”, pointing to Ristevski’s ongoing secrecy over what he did to his wife and how he had misled investigators and his own family.
Ristevksi has never disclosed how or why he killed his wife of 27 years and forensic scientists were unable to pinpoint a cause of death because Ms Ristevski’s body was in such a bad state of decomposition when it was found.
The couple’s daughter Sarah was in the court for the ruling.
She has stood by her father, writing him a letter of reference during his plea hearing earlier this year.
Ristevski, wearing a shirt and tie, appeared via video link.
Ms Ristevski’s brother Stephen Williams said he did not have high expectations going into court.
He said the family had sought justice, so the ruling was “as good as a result we could have got”.
“I wanted capital punishment to be brought back in, but that was never going to happen,” he said.
“So take what today was and start moving on.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he did not comment on individual sentences but called the manslaughter a “terrible crime”.
“I hope that the Court of Appeal decision helps to bring some closure to members of Karen Ristevski’s family,” he said.
“Our thoughts are with them today.”