Paroled rapist receives harshest punishment for ‘disgusting’ murder of Karen Chetcuti

The killer was sentenced to life in prison without parole – the harshest possible punishment of life the could give

Karen Chetcuti, 49, was watering her garden when the rapist snatched her
Karen Chetcuti, 49, was watering her garden when the rapist snatched her

The man who tortured and brutally murdered his neighbour in the Australian state of Victoria has been given the harshest possible punishment of life the Victoria court could give.

Michael Cardamone, 50, attacked his neighbour at her rural Whorouly home and held her prisoner for hours before burning her to death in remote bushland in January 2016.

Karen Chetcuti, mother of two, was watering her vegetable garden when Cardamone snatched her. At the time of a killing, Cardamone was on parole after serving nine years in jail for the 2005 rape of a 15-year-old girl.

On Friday, the supreme court justice Lex Lasry sentenced Cardamone to serve a life sentence without parole for what he described as an “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 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.”

The body of the 49-year-old was discovered by search teams near Lake Buffalo five days after she went missing.

She was sedated with horse tranquilliser, then 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,” Lasry told Cardamone.

“It was, quite frankly, horrifying, depraved and disgusting.”

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.


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