Family of murdered mum and daughter front killer
THE family of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson and Khandalyce Pearce have spoken for the first time of their heartbreak and grief after learning their two girls had been murdered.
Their killer, Daniel James Holdom, with his left hand wrapped in a bandage, appeared in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday to face a sentencing hearing for the double murder of the mother and daughter.
Holdom, 43, pleaded guilty in July to murdering his ex-girlfriend Karlie Pearce-Stevenson in December, 2008 and dumping her body in the Belanglo State Forest in NSW's Southern Highlands.
Four days later he murdered her two-year-old daughter Khandalyce, stuffed her body in a suitcase and threw the bag in scrub next to the Karoonda Highway in Wynarka, South Australia.
The cases were only linked in 2015 in a sensation breakthrough involving DNA evidence and a tip off the Crime Stoppers.
Family members of Ms Pearce-Stevenson and Khandalyce sat in the second row of the court public gallery on Friday, with some laying eyes on Holdom for the first time.
Other relatives watched the hearing via audio visual link from Darwin and Port Augusta in South Australia.
The court listened to a gripping victim impact statement written by Ms Pearce-Stevenson's stepfather Scott Povey, who remembered his stepdaughter as a cheeky girl who loved camping and was the first to say "let's do it let's go".
Mr Povey was married Ms Pearce-Stevenson's mother, Colleen Povey, who died from breast cancer in 2012.
She never knew the fate of her daughter and granddaughter but yearned to see them in her final days alive.
One of the last sentences Mrs Povey's managed to speak in the palliative care unit, as she held her husband's hand, was "are Karlie and Khandles here yet?"
"I will never have another daughter and see me granddaughter grow up," Mr Povey's statement said.
Ms Pearce-Stevenson's biological father Bruce Pearce said he hated Holdom like nothing else.
"The anger, the pain and the hurt that entered my life on October 15, 2015 when I found out Karlie and Khandalyce had been brutally murdered changed my life forever," his statement said.
Mr Pearce spoke of teaching his daughter how to fish at the shacks in Port Augusta and wishing Khandalyce had the same opportunity.
Mr Pearce said he always expected his daughter to return home one day.
"My thoughts were that she was off in the world living her life and she would come back to us when she was ready to settle down," he said in a statement read in court by relative Kellie Lilly.
Ms Pearce-Stevenson visited her grandmother, Lorna Pearce, in South Australia after leaving her hometown of Alice Springs in November, 2008, with Holdom.
Mrs Pearce said she was thrilled to see her granddaughter and Khandalyce but the mood changed when Holdom walked in the door.
"The very first time I met you I didn't like you," Mrs Pearce's statement read.
"I didn't like you then and I don't like you now."
After leaving her grandmother's, Ms Pearce-Stevenson then travelled to the ACT with Holdom and stayed with his relatives for a month before she was murdered.
On the night of December 14, 2008, Ms Pearce-Stevenson and Holdom had an argument and drove to Belanglo State Forest, where the killing occurred between 5am and midday the following day.
Holdom later confessed to another woman that he stomped on Ms Pearce-Stevenson's throat and crushed her windpipe.
He took "trophy" photographs of her body, the court heard, which were uncovered years later and became damning pieces of evidence in the case against Holdom.
Crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC labelled the murder a "thrill kill" that involved a financial motive.
" … evidenced by the taking, collecting and keeping of photos he took of Karlie around the time of her death," he said.
Holdom, who fell in and out of alcohol and drug abuse throughout his adult life, then travelled back to the ACT, traded in Ms Pearce-Stevenson's car and picked up Khandalyce under the ruse of taking her to her grandmother's house in South Australia.
Instead he drove to Naranderra, picking up duct tape, dishcloths and garbage bags on the way, and murdered Khandalyce in or near a motel on December 19, 2008.
"The exact circumstances of Khandalyce's death remain unknown but there can be no doubt her last moments must have been horrific," Mr Tedeschi said.
Mr Tedeschi submitted Holdom should be sentenced to life in prison because the "atrocious and extremely wicked" murders were in the worst category.
Trail bike riders discovered Ms Pearce-Stevenson's remains near a fire trial in Belanglo State Forest in August, 2010.
However, it was another five years before she was identified after a motorist found her daughter's bones among tattered clothing in the suitcase just outside of Wynarka in July, 2015.
After Holdom, who was serving time in jail for child sexual assault, was charged over the murders, it emerged he used Ms Pearce-Stevenson's phone after her death to provide a false assurances to her family that she was alive.
He also used her bank accounts and credit cards to steal more than $70,000, including welfare payments, after the murders.
The hearing before Justice Robert Allan Hulme continues.