BRUTAL MURDER: Man's vile crime in front of his children
WARNING: Graphic content.
THREE young children under the age of six were forced to watch as their mother was mutilated and murdered by their father.
The Melbourne man, an Islamic State sympathiser who cannot be identified, was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday over the 2016 attack described by a Supreme Court judge as "grotesquely violent" and "disgusting".
The court heard how the woman, 27, had her right eye gouged-out and two fingers from her left hand cut off before she was slashed repeatedly with a sharp knife.
The couple's children, aged 2, 4 and 6 at the time, were forced to watch their father cut their mother's eye out and flush it down the toilet. They later accompanied him to dump the body before he drove them to a bakery and used her debit card to pay for pastries.
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Her body was found by a jogger in bushes near a carpark at a tennis club not far from their Broadmeadows home. She had been wrapped in plastic and electrical tape and had injuries to her face and genitals.
The woman died from blood loss and Justice Lex Lasry said her injuries were so severe that police could not initially identify her gender. The court heard her husband used scissors, a sharp knive and a meat cleaver during the attack.
Some details revealed in court were too disturbing to be published.
As he was sentenced, the 36-year-old man frowned at the judge and took a long sip of water. Earlier, he looked towards his wife's family sitting in the gallery and told the judge "somebody stick their finger up at me". That person was ordered to leave the courtroom.
During sentencing remarks, Judge Lasry said the attack was "prolonged and vicious" and took place in front of children who had surely been traumatised.
"As your children watched you removed her eye and flushed it down the toilet." He said she was likely still alive when her eye was gouged-out and that her fingers were later cut off.
"Your killing was the culmination of months, if not years, of violence. You totally dominated her," he said.
"It was grotesquely violent. What you did was disgusting. It is hard to forecast the impact this will have on your children."
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Judge Lasry said one theory about the removal of the woman's eye was that she was being made to look like Islam's anti-Christ. It's believed the killer told his children she "looked like Dajjal" without her right eye.
The court heard the pair met in 2008 after the woman moved to Australia from Lebanon. They married within two weeks of the wedding being "arranged" and had three children in quick succession.
They lived in a home that police described as "sparsely furnished". Inside there was a single milk crate in the loungeroom, urine-soaked mattresses, scribble and blood on the walls.
The pair's relationship was ruled by violence, the court heard, and the killer's "extremist Islamist beliefs".
He wanted to travel to Syria to join the fight with terror group Islamic State but she is believed to have resisted. Police said that played a role in why he decided the kill her.
The court heard that on the night of the murder the 36-year-old - who was born to Greek and Lebanese parents - wrapped the woman in plastic and drove her to the Dallas Tennis Club where, under the cover of darkness, he hid her body in the bushes.
One of his children later told police that he closed the boot and sat on it, looking at the body "to see if Mummy got up".
The children were later the victims of his abuse. On the day of his arrest, police performing a welfare check discovered the run-down home the children shared with their father.
The court heard all three children showed signs of physical abuse and told police their father had beat them. One of the children had bruising across his face and blood around his nose. He was dehydrated. Another had swelling on the left side of his face and blood behind his ear. The youngest child had burns on her left foot which appeared to be the result of contact with a hot object and had been "left with urine and faeces in her nappy for a prolonged period".
The killer wore glasses and had his hair cut short when he appeared before a packed Victorian Supreme Court on Thursday. He said nothing as he was sentenced and was led away in handcuffs.
Judge Lasry said he showed no remorse for his crimes. He rejected the suggestion that a drug-induced psychosis was responsible for his actions and suggested there were limited prospects for his rehabilitation.
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He read out a long list of prior crimes committed before his wife moved to Australia. Between 2000 and 2007 he was jailed a number of times for theft, intentionally causing injury and driving offences. He was receiving the disbility pension at the time of his wife's murder.
The killer pleaded not guilty to murder in March last year but later changed his plea. He will spend the next 30 years in jail.
He has not been identified so as to protect the pair's three children, now aged 4, 6 and 8.