Sarah Ristevski's love for her killer father is unquestioned. But in court on Friday, it was clear she was at odds with the rest of the family.
Sarah Ristevski's love for her killer father is unquestioned. But in court on Friday, it was clear she was at odds with the rest of the family.

Ristevski family divided by killer dad

It's impossible to question Sarah Ristevski's love for her father despite what he has done.

The only daughter of Borce and Karen Ristevski has never wavered in support of the man who killed her mother, discarded her body in bushland and lied to his family about his involvement.

She did not change her tune when the 55-year-old admitted to killing his wife.

And she is not about to take a different path now.

But her resolute backing of the convicted killer - who on Friday had four years added to his nine-year jail term for refusing to tell authorities why or how he killed Karen - has her on the outside of a family divided by what Borce has done.

The split was never more evident than when Sarah walked into court on Friday alone.

 

Sarah Ristevski (right) departs the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne on Friday. Picture: James Ross/AAP
Sarah Ristevski (right) departs the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne on Friday. Picture: James Ross/AAP

 

Karen, Borce and Sarah Ristevski during happy times.
Karen, Borce and Sarah Ristevski during happy times.

 

Wearing a grey jumper and clutching a cream-coloured scarf, she took a seat at the very back of the court.

Seated four rows in front of her was Karen's brother Stephen Williams and his supporters. Next to Mr Williams was police informant Timothy Day.

Sarah did not flinch when Court of Appeal Chief Justice Anne Ferguson told the court that Borce would not be free until 2027 at the earliest.

On a monitor at the other end of the room, Borce turned red as the decision was read out. Sarah grabbed her things, stood and walked out a separate exit to the rest of her family.

Mr Williams told reporters he wished Victoria had the death penalty. Sarah avoided the media.

What else is there for her to say? Her position is crystal clear and unchanging.

In a revealing character reference that was read on her behalf at Borce's sentencing in March, Sarah wrote that the pair were "inseparable".

"I visited him every week and talked to him on the phone at least twice a day since his arrest in December 2017," she wrote.

 

Sarah Ristevski exits the funeral service for her mum Karen with a photograph of her. At the time, her father Borce was a suspect in Karen’s killing but had not been arrested. Picture: Nicole Garmston
Sarah Ristevski exits the funeral service for her mum Karen with a photograph of her. At the time, her father Borce was a suspect in Karen’s killing but had not been arrested. Picture: Nicole Garmston

 

Sarah Ristevski leaving the Supreme Court in March. Picture: Jake Nowakowski
Sarah Ristevski leaving the Supreme Court in March. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

 

The glowing reference discussed themes including her childhood memories and how "the love" and marriage her parents shared was "something I hope to one day experience myself".

"If I could use a few words to describe my dad's personality they would be loving, caring, sympathetic, protective and charismatic," she wrote.

"When I was really young dad would get me up every morning and make sure I was ready for school. He did my hair, ironed my uniform and packed my lunch before driving me to and from school every day. He drove me to all of my extra-curricular activities and stayed to watch all of my sport activities even though I wasn't very good."

But other family members, including Karen's aunt Patricia Gray and her cousin Nevada Knight, clearly don't feel the same way.

The pair, who avoided court on Friday, told an earlier hearing they had lost all respect for the man who took his wife's life.

Ms Knight told the Victorian Supreme Court she had lost 15kg "by going days and weeks without being able to move" after Karen went missing.

"I would vomit every time I moved," she said.

 

Karen Ristevski's brother Stephen Williams (centre) sat four rows in front of Sarah Ristevski in court on Friday. Picture: James Ross/AAP
Karen Ristevski's brother Stephen Williams (centre) sat four rows in front of Sarah Ristevski in court on Friday. Picture: James Ross/AAP

 

Sarah Ristevski has always stood by her father. Picture: Daniel Pockett/AAP
Sarah Ristevski has always stood by her father. Picture: Daniel Pockett/AAP

 

She spoke of sitting behind Borce at Karen's funeral and being hugged by the man who killed her.

"I hugged him standing over her body at her gravesite where he whispered, 'Thankyou for coming, your support means a lot'."

She told him he was not remorseful and had only admitted to killing his wife "when it suited your case".

"You've had almost three years to come forward. That's not remorse. That's selfishness."

The relationship between Borce and Sarah was again mentioned on Friday, albeit briefly.

"He participated in a media conference in which he comforted his visibly distressed daughter," Chief Justice Ferguson said of the day Borce played loving dad for the cameras.

And it was no doubt difficult for Sarah to hear.

rohan.smith1@news.com.au | @ro_smith

*For 24-hour domestic violence support  call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636. 


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