Borce Ristevski has admitted to killing his wife, two years after her remains were found in bushland.
The 54-year-old Melbourne father pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 47-year-old Karen Ristevski on Wednesday, one day before he was set to stand trial for murder in Victorian Supreme Court.
Ristevski is accused of killing the woman at their Avondale Heights home and later dumping her body on June 29, 2016.
His plea comes as a shock after he had long denied any involvement in Ms Ristevski’s death claiming she had gone for a walk and never returned.
Prosecutors withdrew the murder charge and Ristevski entered a plea of guilty to manslaughter on Wednesday.
The plea confirmed Ristevski had been covering up the slaying for years.
Borce Ristevski (pictured in 2017) pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 47-year-old Karen Ristevski on Wednesday, one day before he was set to stand trial for her murder in Victorian Supreme Court
The Melbourne father had long denied any involvement with his wife’s (far left) death and claimed she had gone on walk and never returned. Her body was found in February 2017 in Macedon Regional Park
Ms Ristevski’s skeletal remains were found in Macedon Regional Park in February 2017 by two horticulturalists who had noticed a strange smell. Ristevski is said to have dumped his wife’s body between two logs and concealed it with branches before returning home
TIMELINE OF KAREN RISTEVSKI’S DEATH
June 29, 2016
Karen Ristevski last seen at her Melbourne home in Avondale Heights
Her mobile phone pings off a tower in the Macedon Ranges
A car similar to her black Mercedes SLK coupe spotted by CCTV cameras near Diggers Rest railway station
July 14, 2016
Husband Borce Ristevski and daughter Sarah make a tearful plea for information to help find their missing wife and mother
December 19, 2016
Police search grassland, waterways, creeks and farms
February 20, 2017
Karen Ristevski’s body found at Mount Macedon Regional Park
March 6, 2017
Funeral service held with Borce Ristevski a pallbearer and daughter Sarah leading the procession
August 31, 2017
Police recreate the journey of Ms Ristevski on the day she went missing in a black Mercedes, identical to hers
December 13, 2017
Borce Ristevski charged with murder and faces court where a lawyer indicates a not-guilty plea and he is remanded in custody
April 18, 2018
Ristevski returns to court where it’s revealed detectives tapped phone calls and planted listening devices as they investigated the alleged killing, compiling a 22,000-page evidence brief
Ristevski is granted state-funded legal aid as he fights the allegations
July 16, 2018
Ristevski’s two-week committal hearing begins and later hears evidence from his daughter Sarah who said he was never “aggressive” towards her mum.
August 2, 2018
Ristevski ordered to stand trial in the Supreme Court charged with murdering his wife
December 4, 2018
A five-week trial for Ristevski is set for March 2019
March 13, 2018
A day before a jury is due to be empanelled for his murder trial, Borce Ristevski pleads guilty to manslaughter after prosecutors withdraw the murder charge
Ms Ristevski’s skeletal remains were found in Macedon Regional Park in February 2017, eight months after she disappeared, by two horticulturalists who had noticed a strange smell.
An autopsy could not ascertain her cause of death.
He was charged with murder months later in December, after an investigation that involved listening devices and CCTV footage analysis.
It’s alleged he took Ms Ristevski’s Mercedes-Benz roadster to dispose of the body in bushland, killing the signal of his and her mobile phones on the way.
He then allegedly dumped his wife’s body between two logs and concealed it with branches before returning home.
Ristevski claimed the two had argued over money and Karen left the home to clear her head.
But detectives allege he killed his wife, bundled her into the car and drove to the park, taking the Calder Freeway.
Ristevski had maintained his innocence, even putting on an emotional display as a pallbearer during Karen’s funeral in March 2017.
Ristevski was a pallbearer at his wife’s funeral and was seen breaking down in tears after the service as he embraced mourners
The couple’s daughter Sarah Ristevski (pictured) said her father was never aggressive towards her mother but admitted his behaviour was off in the days after she vanished
Court hearings revealed the family’s dire financial situation with details of Ms Ristevski’s fashion store Bella Bleu floundering
He did not speak during the service, but was later seen breaking down in tears as he embraced mourners and hopped in the back of the hearse.
Prosecutors had pushed hard for a murder trial, saying his deceitful behaviours after the killing gave rise to the required intent.
They said the way he concealed the body and lied to family and police were not the actions of a man who accidentally killed his wife.
Sarah Ristevski pictured during her mother’s funeral procession, carrying her portrait
The magistrate said the evidence was largely ‘circumstantial’ but taken at its highest, the case was strong enough for a jury to convict him for murder.
During previous proceedings, the court learned of the family’s dire financial situation with details of Ms Ristevski’s fashion store Bella Bleu floundering.
In emotional testimony last year, the couple’s daughter Sarah Ristevski said her father was never aggressive towards her mother.
She did, however, admit her father’s behaviour ‘didn’t make sense’ in the days after her mother vanished and questioned why he had switched off his phone.
Prosecutor Matt Fisher detailed a conversation between the father and daughter during closing submissions of a July 2018 hearing to decide whether Ristevski stands trial for murder.
As read by Mr Fisher, Sarah said: ‘You were out of the house for two hours. Your phone is off for two hours… They pinged you on the Calder [Freeway].’
Ristevski responded: ‘That’s what they are trying to plant out there, Sarah.’
‘That doesn’t make sense,’ Sarah said.
‘Nothing makes sense because they’re making it up as they go,’ he replied.
In 2016, days after she disappeared, Ristevski was asked by a Channel Seven journalist if he murdered his wife.
He remained stony-faced at the accusation, refusing to answer and turning away, holding his daughter by the arm.