DANIEL James Holdom, who killed a young mother and her toddler daughter in NSW and dumped their remains 1200 kilometres apart, has issued an eleventh hour apology after hearing of the impact of his “grave crimes”.
But Justice Robert Allan Hulme seemed unconvinced.
“I’ll have to think about whether I give that any weight at all. Why should I?” the judge said to Holdom’s barrister, Gregory Woods QC, at a sentence hearing in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday.
Holdom, 43, pleaded guilty in July — one week ahead of his trial – to the December 2008 murder of his girlfriend of two months, Karlie Pearce-Stevenson, 20, and Khandalyce Pearce, aged two-and-a-half, about four days later.
Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s remains were found in the notorious Belanglo State Forest in 2010, but were not identified until her daughter’s remains were discovered in a suitcase dumped beside a South Australian highway in 2015.
Her mother’s unidentified body was for years known as “the Angel of Belanglo” due to a T-shirt she was found wearing with the word “angelic” on it. She had bone fractures indicative of being forcefully stomped on or kneed in the chest, the agreed facts state.
“This was a thrill kill, as evidenced by the taking, collecting and keeping of the trophy photographs he took of Karlie around the time of her death,” crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC said.
Her blonde toddler, suffocated by Holdom “probably” in a hotel room in Narrandera, was found with balls of dishcloth stuffed in her mouth, layers of tape wound from her chin to her eyes, and a disposable nappy wrapped around her skull.
“Both murders fall within the worst case and can aptly be described as atrocious, detestable, hateful, gravely reprehensible and extremely wicked,” Mr Tedeschi said.
He is calling for two life sentences for the man behind their “callous, depraved and grossly heinous” deaths.
Holdom also used bank cards and personal papers to steal more than $70,000 from Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s accounts, and a mobile phone to create “false indications” to her family that she and Khandalyce were alive.
The victims’ birth father and grandfather, Bruce Pearce, says the hatred he feels for Holdom is “consuming”.
“I wake from nightmares with the fear that you will get away with what you’ve done,” Mr Pearce said in a victim impact statement.
“The one question that I want you to answer for me is a simple one – Why?
“I would like to see the death penalty for you but even that would not be enough.” Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s mother, Colleen Povey, died from breast cancer in February 2012.
“Her very last distinguishable sentence … Is Karlie and Khandles here yet?,” Karlie’s stepfather, Scott Povey, said in his statement.
“I was holding her hand when she died and I knew that Karlie was not coming.”
The court heard Holdom has committed another 20 fraud offences, and was behind the wheel of a car between Alice Springs and Adelaide when it crashed, leaving his then-partner in a wheelchair and killing her two children.
Mr Woods argued his client suffered a deeply abusive childhood and should serve lengthy jail time but not life.
Holdom is listed for sentence on November 9.