Accused wife-killer Borce Ristevski will plead guilty to the manslaughter of his wife Karen, nearly two years after her body was found dumped in Victorian bushland.
Ristevski has maintained his innocence up until now and switched his plea on the eve of his Supreme Court trial on Wednesday. Rather than pleading not guilty to murder, Ristevski will plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, the Herald Sun reports.
Karen, a fashion boutique owner, went missing from her Oakley Drive home in Avondale Heights, Melbourne, in June 2016, and her body was found by a member of the public in bushland in the Mount Macedon Regional Park on February 20, 2017. Her remains were found under a log in the park, but police have not publicly released her cause of death.
Her husband, who was the last person to see Karen alive, told police she left the home to clear her head after they’d argued, but after failing to return the next day, he reported her missing. Ristevski was charged with Karen’s murder in December 2017.
The investigation was filled with twists and turns with police releasing evidence over the months in an effort to weed out the killer.
In 2016 they released CCTV footage of a black Mercedes-Benz SLK coupe, similar to one owned by Karen, travelling towards Mount Macedon. At the time, News Corp reported that an unidentified man was seen standing alone with the car in the area, about 1.5 kilometres away from where Karen was eventually found.
A year later, Karen’s brother-in-law Vasko Ristevski was captured on film walking in bushland where her body was found eight months after she disappeared.
Channel Nine’s A Current Affair was filming a story on the case that day and happened upon Vasko has he wandered around the area. He refused to answer their questions and quickly got into his car and left the scene.
Around the same time, police seized an iPad containing suspicious Google searchers was seized from the Ristevski family home in Avondale Heights.
According to the Herald Sun, the iPad’s search history included Google searchers on how police can detect traces of blood, how mobile phone data can be deleted, and how police might track phones.
Ristevski’s plea change comes after his and Karen’s daughter Sarah broke down in court as she described her family’s “close” relationship, while standing just metres away from her father. According to multiple reports at the time, Sarah became emotional as she described the close bond she shared with both her parents, before insisting her father was “very worried” when her mother first went missing.
She also claimed while her mother would often take time out on walks to clear her head, her father “was always the calm one”.
“I didn’t grow up in a household where there were major arguments,” she told the court last year.
Describing a typical argument in her family, Sarah reportedly said it wouldn’t go beyond a minor disagreement, but said her mother was known to like her own space if she became stressed out, claiming: “She liked to be alone when she was upset.”