A Supreme Court justice has slammed a man’s “perverse” act of taking photos of his wife‘s dead body after strangling her.
Elaine Pandilovski, 44, was strangled to death at her Mill Park home in Melbourne’s northeast on July 14, 2020, by her longtime partner Zoran Pandilovski, 48.
Pandilovski had been due to face trial in April but pleaded guilty to the murder minutes before it was supposed to start after prosecutors rejected his offer to plea on manslaughter.
He returned before the Supreme Court on Wednesday for sentencing, sitting in the dock with his head facing the floor.
The couple had begun dating in their teens and married in 2002, but Pandilovski was kicked out of the family home due to domestic violence about 20 months before the murder.
They remained in contact, mostly about their young son, and in early 2020 Pandilovski spoke to his wife about his hopes to reconcile.
Mrs Pandilovski said she did not feel the same way.
At 7.45am on the morning of her murder, Pandilovski was captured on CCTV arriving at the family home, where he was supposed to pick up their son’s iPad for repairs.
He left about two hours later and was injured in a “head-on” high-speed car crash along Melbourne’s Western Ring Rd in what Justice Christopher Beale described as a “likely suicide attempt”.
The alarm was raised when Mrs Pandilovski failed to arrive at the school where she worked as a teacher’s aid.
Friends and family searched the home three times before police confirmed the family’s fears after discovering her remains hidden in a storage room off the garage the same night.
The court was told Pandilovski had two photos of his wife’s body “in situ” taken on her phone when he was arrested, which Justice Beale described as “perverse”.
But he said he was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt to accept the prosecution’s characterisation of the photos as a “trophy”.
Mrs Pandilovski died from compression of the neck after an attack lasting “tens of seconds or potentially longer” in the lounge room.
Justice Beale accepted Pandilovski had not planned to murder his wife but “lost control” as the couple argued.
“As your counsel properly acknowledged, this was not an isolated act of violence towards Elaine,” he said.
“Regrettably, there were other incidents of violence spread over a number of years. The murder did not happen out of the blue.”
The court was told Pandilovski was remorseful for the murder and “can’t believe the trauma” he’d inflicted on so many people.
“I sit there every day in my cell and think about the impact on everyone, it’s overwhelming,” he told a psychologist.
He was sentenced to serve 24 years imprisonment and will be eligible for parole in 2037.
Pandilovski wiped his face with a tissue as he was led from the courtroom.