'Sociopath' killer Michael Cardamone will never be free after Karen Chetcuti's murder

AN EVIL ACT: Michael Cardamone's (left) murder of Karen Chetcuti (right) was described as "a horrendous crime, committed in the most appalling way".
AN EVIL ACT: Michael Cardamone's (left) murder of Karen Chetcuti (right) was described as "a horrendous crime, committed in the most appalling way".

Michael Cardamone has been told he has no right to appeal his sentence of life without parole for the brutal murder of Whorouly's Karen Chetcuti, after Court of Appeal judges labelled him an "'unfeeling sociopath".

Ms Chetcutidied in the early hours of January 13, 2016 after her Whorouly neighbour Cardamone took her from her home, held her captive, assaulted her, injected her with battery acid and set her body on fire.

The sentence handed down by Justice Lex Lasry in Wangaratta Supreme Court in August 2017 was a landmark decision in Victoria.

Never before had a murderer, who pleaded guilty and did not have prior convictions for murder, been denied hope for eventual release on parole.

Cardamone's lawyer Dermot Dann QC challenged what he called a "manifestly excessive" sentence, saying Justice Lasry failed to mention he was considering an indefinite prison term and did not give enough weight to the guilty plea, questioning the incentive for people to confess when there was no jail-time discount.

But the leave to appeal was refused in court on Tuesday by Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, Justice Chris Maxwell and Justice Mark Weinberg.

"The material before the sentencing judge suggested that the applicant was nothing more than an unfeeling sociopath, who was perfectly prepared to inflict the most extraordinary suffering on his victim," they said.

"The sentence of life imprisonment with no non-parole period was, as his honour (Justice Lasry) stated, a dreadful punishment.

"It was, however, a punishment for a dreadful crime.

"It was, in the exceptional circumstances of this case, well-merited."

The Court of Appeal judges accepted Justice Lasry's verdict that the murder was "unprovoked and extraordinarily violent".

"The murder of Ms Chetcuti was a horrendous crime, committed in the most appalling way," they said.

"The murder was pre-meditated, and committed in circumstances of the utmost cruelty.

"It was committed by an offender who had already shown himself to be a serious threat to women, and who had offended again not long after being released from two very long stints in prison."

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Cardamone had served time in jail for the 2005 rape of a 15-year-old girl and still had nine months left to serve on parole when he killed Ms Chetcuti.

The Court of Appeal judges also noted Cardamone lied to police after his victim was first reported missing, tried to implicate his friend in the murder, then tried to have the man killed so he could not give evidence against him - even getting his mother to help organise a hitman who turned out to be an undercover police officer.

Karen Chetcuti's mother Clary Verbunt and sister Leny Verbunt.

Karen Chetcuti's mother Clary Verbunt and sister Leny Verbunt.

Ms Chetcuti's sister Leny Verbunt was in court on Tuesday with her mum and told The Border Mail the family was still very shaken up.

"We were always told that he will appeal so I'm so relieved that it's finally over," she said.

Cardamone was not in the courtroom for the verdict, meaning Ms Verbunt could not look at him as he was told he would never be released.

"He didn't show any remorse during the trial anyway," she said.

"Just the sheer fact that he appealed so soon, it just goes to show he cannot be rehabilitated because he just doesn't get it - it's 'woe is me, I don't want to spend my life in jail'."

Northern Victoria MP Tania Maxwell at an Enough is Enough rally in Wangaratta.

Northern Victoria MP Tania Maxwell at an Enough is Enough rally in Wangaratta.

Faith restored in court system

"Justice has been served today", said Northern Victoria MP Tania Maxwell in response to the verdict on Michael Cardamone.

Before she was elected, Wangaratta-based Ms Maxwell ran the Enough is Enough campaign, calling for tougher laws for those who inflict brutal violence.

"To the people who love Karen, I send my thoughts to you all today," she said.

"I recognise that it is the right of offenders to pursue appeals, but for Cardamone to suggest that his sentence was 'manifestly excessive', after inflicting such depraved suffering on his victim, was completely outrageous and dealt another cruel blow to Karen's family and friends.

"The fact that the court has determined that Cardamone is never to be released may have restored a little of my faith in the justice system.

"Communities no longer have to be concerned about this predator being released."