Family of murdered woman tells of pain
A shattered mother has told of her unimaginable horror at the brutal murder of her daughter, killed and mutilated by a lifelong family friend.
Tamara Farrell was slain 10 days before her 32nd birthday in the bedroom of her Ballarat home by Shaye Kotiau, 22, who enlisted his sister to help dump and burn her body on the side of the highway 300km away.
Kotiau says he does not remember how or why he killed Ms Farrell, who often babysat him growing up and considered her a "cousin", but remembers "it was brutal".
The family friends, Kotiau's younger sister Kieahn then-19, and Ms Farrell's roommate Russell Goodes, had been playing drinking games into the early hours of Sunday morning on February 17 last year.
About 6am the group went to bed, before a restless Kotiau got up and walked into Ms Farrell's bedroom and murdered her.
An autopsy later revealed the young bus driver's cause of death was likely a head injury, but the exact circumstances of her killing remain unknown.
The following morning, Kotiau called his sister into the bedroom and said: "I'm going to tell you something that's going to change our lives forever" before revealing Ms Farrell's naked and bruised body.
The siblings then proceeded to distract Mr Goodes while moving Ms Farrell's body into the boot of Ms Kotiau's car.
Late on Sunday night, the brother and sister travelled back to their home in Altona, picked up a container of petrol, a hammer and chisel, before driving to Nambrook, near Sale.
In the cover of darkness, Kotiau's dragged Ms Farrell's body out of the car and under a nearby tree before using the tools to remove his friend's teeth and setting her alight in a horrific attempt to conceal her identity.
The siblings watched Ms Farrell's body burn for about 20 minutes before returning home early Monday morning.
A bag containing teeth, hair and a necklace belonging to Ms Farrell were later found dumped under a railway bridge in Altona.
Supreme Court Judge Paul Coghlan said the mutilation of Ms Farrell's body was so extreme - "there's certainly not much precedent for it".
When Ms Farrell did not turn up to work on Monday morning, her mother called the Kotiau household looking for her.
When quizzed by his girlfriend about what he had done, he said: "I've done something that I can't reverse, it's unforgivable".
Ms Farrell's mother, Nellie, told a pre-sentence hearing on Wednesday her daughter was killed by the "last people I would ever think would hurt her".
"I watched that boy (Kotiau) grow, we were like family," she said.
"No words can ever relate the horror and gut wrenching loss that smashes into your soul."
Ms Farrell's sister, Tori McDonald, said she cries every day for her big sister.
"Children that lose parents are orphans, people that lose their spouse are widows, but there is no name for a person that loses a sibling, I'm just a girl that lost her sister," Ms McDonald said.
Crown prosecutor Patrick Bourke said this case was a high-level example of murder given Ms Farrell was attacked in her own bed and due to Kotiau's attempt to conceal Ms Farrell's body.
"It was systematic and calculated … it's very extreme," Mr Bourke said.
"It shows a complete and utter disregard for Tamara as a person," he said.
Barrister Jarrod Williams, for Kotiau, told the court his client was heavily intoxicated on the night of the murder and is remorseful.
Ms Kotiau, who made full admissions to police following her arrest, was sentenced to a 12-month community corrections order after pleading guilty to accessory to murder.
Justice Coghlan will deliver his sentence on July 9.
Originally published as 'Indescribable grief': Family of murdered woman tells of pain