The family of 11-year-old Zoe Buttigieg has vowed to present a “united front” in the ongoing court case into the alleged rape and murder.
The Wangaratta Magistrates’ Court was packed full on Thursday as family and friends, including her mother Janelle Saunders, had their first look at Bowe Maddigan since the girl’s death on October 25.
Some were in tears before the hearing started.
Maddigan, 29, of Mildura, was barely visible on the small screen as he appeared from the Melbourne Assessment Prison via video link.
Zoe’s uncle Matt Carmody told The Border Mail, outside court, ongoing support from police and the community had been appreciated.
“We were here for one reason and that was for Zoe,” he said.
“We’ve got a great network of people around the family helping everybody and also the community of Wangaratta.
“Zoe’s mum’s going as good as can be expected.
“It’s a traumatic thing for any family to go through, any loss of any family member, especially a child is always hard.”
Mr Carmody said Zoe was a “fantastic “ little girl.
The family was prepared for the long process of the justice system, which can often takes years to produce a result, but it did not help their grief.
“I get no comfort at all from any of this, we shouldn’t be here” Mr Carmody said.
But they had committed to always stand by each other during the process.
“That’s just he family we are,” he said.
“We are a pretty private family and it’s a hard time.”
Maddigan will face charges of murder, sexual penetration of a child under 16 and indecent assault of child under 16 by inappropriately touching her.
Zoe was found dead by her mother in her Inchbold Street home about 11am on October 25.
Her accused murderer was arrested walking barefoot along the Hume Freeway, about 10 kilometres from her house about 6.30am on Sunday.
Maddigan only spoke briefly in a monotone voice during Thursday’s hearing to acknowledge he could see court proceedings via the video link.
The court case was adjourned for a three-day committal hearing at Wangaratta from May 4.
Maddigan’s lawyer gave no indication as to how his client might plead or explanation for the alleged offending.
A remote witness facility will be made available at Wangaratta that week, so witnesses would not have to face Maddigan in person at court.
Their evidence would be relayed into the courtroom via the television screens.
Maddigan, who had been in custody for three-and-a-half months since his arrest, did not make any application for bail.