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Killer still can't explain girl's murder

AAP logoAAP 10/11/2016 Kaitlyn Offer

Despite two days of pre-sentencing submissions, neither the defence nor the prosecution can explain why Bowe Maddigan killed schoolgirl Zoe Buttigieg in her bedroom.

The father of two can't adequately explain it either.

On Thursday, Justice Lex Lasry said the assault and murder were inexplicable.

"It's a mystery I can't understand and made all the more difficult to understand by the age of the victim," he said in the Victorian Supreme Court.

But in submissions on Friday at the plea hearing, Maddigan's lawyer Tim Marsh appealed for a non-life sentence because, based on comparisons with other child murder cases, Maddigan's case was not as extreme.

Maddigan, 30, was invited to the Wangaratta house, in regional Victoria, by Zoe's mother Janelle Saunders and her partner, where they spent the night drinking and smoking cannabis.

In the early hours of October 25, 2015, Maddigan went into Zoe's room, got the 11-year-old down from her bunk bed, sexually assaulted her, strangled her, then put her back in bed.

In appealing for the lighter sentence, Mr Marsh said Maddigan had prospects of drug and alcohol rehabilitation in prison, and had embraced Christianity.

"He will have a great deal of time on his hands to deal with (rehabilitation) and he'll be a much older man if and when he's released," Justice Lasry replied.

Director of Public Prosecutions John Champion had argued for a life sentence, saying the crime was violent and would have been frightening for Zoe, who was old enough to understand what was going on.

The court also heard an autopsy examination found a large gold ring belonging to Maddigan in Zoe's mouth, which both the defence and prosecution said there was no context or reason for.

The prosecution says the attack was for Maddigan's own sexual gratification and after his arrest he said she looked like an angel that he wanted for himself.

Maddigan, who has a history of substance-fuelled violence, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years' prison for punching a man more than 20 times to the face and head outside a pub, and has been convicted for domestic violence offences.

A psychologist report found Maddigan has a mood disorder and poly-substance dependency - he started drinking and smoking cannabis at 11 - but no causal link between the disorder and offending.

In her victim impact statement, Ms Saunders said despite Maddigan's past she tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, something she would never give anyone again.

Ms Saunders checked on Zoe twice before discovering her daughter was dead.

"My heart was pounding in my ears ... I started to vomit," she wrote.

"Zoe was dead, she was dead and then I heard someone's screams and wails and then I realised it was me."

Victim impact statements read to the court repeatedly described Zoe as a happy and loving girl who enjoyed netball and dreamed of being an an X-Factor star.

Maddigan had become a real life "boogeyman" when he entered Zoe's bedroom, her uncle Matthew Carmody told the court.

Maddigan will be sentenced on December 19 in Wangaratta.

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