Tuesday, 23 Apr 2024

‘No woman deserves this’: Victim’s family calls for end to domestic violence as killer jailed for 17 years

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Loved ones of Melbourne woman Elaine Pandilovski are calling for more to be done to end violence against women after her estranged husband was jailed for killing the 44-year-old and hiding her body in the basement.

On Wednesday, pharmaceutical sales manager Zoran Pandilovski, 48, was jailed for at least 17 years for fatally strangling his high school sweetheart in her Mill Park home on April 14, 2020 while their son was on a sleepover elsewhere.

Elaine’s aunt Mary Yoannidis (left) and Elaine’s mother Kathy Dafopoulos leave court on Wednesday.Credit: Jason South

Pandilovski then drove away and attempted to kill himself in a car crash.

“There are too many young children being put through hell. Losing their mothers,” Elaine’s aunt Mary Yoannidis said outside court.

“She did not deserve this; no woman deserves being put through this.

“No matter what they gave him, it wouldn’t make it any different because she’s not here, and he is.”

Pandilovski stared at the floor in the Supreme Court on Wednesday as Justice Christopher Beale jailed him for murder.

Beale said the killer drove to his former wife’s house about 7.45am on the day of her death to collect a broken iPad.

There, he choked his victim to death, likely in the lounge room, before moving her body to a storage room in the garage.

He then used his former wife’s phone to take photographs of her body before leaving at 9.25am.

Zoran Pandilovski pleaded guilty to murdering estranged wife Elaine.Credit: Facebook

After Elaine failed to attend work or reply to text messages, colleagues and family members went to her house.

“On the evening of July 14, 2020, police attended the home and found Elaine’s body in the storage room,” Beale said.

“The way she died would’ve been terrifying. Not only did you cut short her life, you caused great suffering and loss to her loved ones.

“I am satisfied it was your intention to kill.”

“This was not an isolated act of violence towards Elaine. The murder did not happen out of the blue.”

Pandilovski later claimed he moved his ex-wife’s lifeless body to the basement storage room so that their then 12-year-old son would not arrive home to find her dead.

Given the force used to kill the victim, a pathologist noted it was likely the attack would have gone on for tens of seconds.

The court heard the pair had been high school sweethearts before marrying in 2002.

In 2019, Pandilovski moved out of the family home after his wife reported violence to police. Their relationship was marred by his violence, infidelity and alcohol abuse.

Zoran Pandilovski is led into court on Wednesday.Credit: Jason South

The following year, Pandilovski told a mutual friend he was hopeful of reconciliation, but his estranged wife told the same friend this would never happen.

“This was not an isolated act of violence towards Elaine. The murder did not happen out of the blue,” Beale said.

“Elaine complained to others about ongoing physical abuse.”

Pandilovski later told a psychologist he sat in his cell every day thinking about the impact his crime had caused to others. He has lost contact with his son.

“Though only you are to blame for that state of affairs,” Beale said.

Pandilovski pleaded guilty to murder in April ahead of a scheduled jury trial.

Speaking outside court, Elaine’s mother Kathy Dafopoulos, who is now raising her grandson who lives with autism, said her family had been to hell and back during the past three years.

“He deserves what he got, I wish it was life in jail. I’m going to move on with my grandson, move on with my family and look after everyone,” she said.

Elaine’s best friend Carolyn Stamp said more needed to be done to stop men killing women.

“Since Elaine has died, there has been so many after her, and there will continue to be more unless something is done,” Stamp said.

“Where is the outrage from our politicians?

“We need the justice system to stop men killing women.”

Pandilovski was sentenced to 24 years’ jail with a non-parole period of 17 years. With time already served, he could be released in 14 years.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636.

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