‘Sickening’: Karen Chetcuti's family devastated as Michael Cardamone launches appeal against murder sentence

Michael Cardamone
Michael Cardamone

The family of Karen Chetcuti (nee Verbunt) have been left devastated by news the man who tortured and killed her will not accept his punishment of life in jail without parole.

Michael Cardamone, 50, has lodged an appeal against sentence with the Supreme Court.

Justice Lex Lasry’s verdict was a landmark for Victoria.

A murderer, who pleaded guilty and did not have prior convictions for murder, had never before been denied hope for eventual release.

The Supreme Court confirmed Cardamone appealed the sentence on the grounds that he believed the “judge erred in failing to fix a non-parole period and that the sentence was manifestly excessive by virtue of the fact that no non-parole period was fixed”. 

The appeal was lodged this week and no hearing date has yet been set.

Karen Chetcuti (nee Verbunt)

Karen Chetcuti (nee Verbunt)

Ms Chetcuti died in the early hours of January 13 last year when her neighbour Cardamone, 50, doused her with petrol and burned her alive near Lake Buffalo, after he had injected her with an animal tranquilizer and fractured her skull.

The police homicide squad broke the news to her family on Thursday and sister Leny Verbunt said although the appeal was expected, she and her mother were immediately angered.

“It’s just a bloody disgrace – he should not be allowed to appeal, but that’s the system,” she said.

“We always knew this was going to happen, but (Thursday) when I found out, I was so angry.

“I shouldn’t be shocked.”

Ms Verbunt said the decision to appeal showed Cardamone did not understand the severity of what he did to her sister.

“I just feel that he’s so conceited, it’s all about him … What makes him think he’s got a right to appeal?” she said.

“I’m still angry that he can do this.”

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

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

The family had no doubt what they believed should be the outcome of the appeal: they wanted the life sentence without parole to remain and the appeal judge to back up Justice Lasry’s strong comments about why Cardamone should not get parole.

The Office of Public Prosecution conceded during Cardamone’s plea hearing in August that a jail sentence with a parole period was within the appropriate range.

The office would not make any comments on Friday when asked by The Border Mail if prosecutors would to defend the decision that Cardamone never be released.

In handing down the sentence on August 25, Justice Lasry said he did not believe Cardamone felt any remorse for “a crime is so horrific, so cruel and so callous, that a step towards mercy becomes too difficult to take”.

“I had ceased to be amazed at the level of violence some men are capable of inflicting on defenceless women, but what you did to Karen Chetcuti – over a number of hours and for no apparent or logical reason – does indeed amaze me,” he said.

“There is nothing to indicate there has been any significant change in your attitudes to women or any insights into your offending.

“I regard your prospects of rehabilitation as virtually non-existent.”

Cardamone’s defence barrister Patrick Tehan, QC, asked Justice Lasry during the hearing not to deny his client a parole period, but did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.