ACT News

Aleksander Vojneski sentenced to life imprisonment for murder of Paula Conlon

A grin stretched across the face of Aleksander Vojneski as he walked from court, sentenced to life behind bars for stabbing a mother of three young girls to death.

For grieving mother Sharon Bell, the killer's smile was further proof that he holds no remorse for the brutal murder of her daughter, a crime described as a senseless betrayal of trust and love.

"I just don't think he cares what he's done," Mrs Bell said after Vojneski's sentencing on Tuesday.

"I'll use the strong word 'hate'. I hate him for that.

"I really do, and I'll never forgive him for what he's done to me, my husband, my son, who is in a mess, and all the family here in Australia."

Vojneski was sentenced to life imprisonment by Justice John Burns on Tuesday morning for stabbing his girlfriend, Paula Conlon, 30, to death in her Macgregor home in March 2012.

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It is the first life sentence handed out by the ACT Supreme Court since Scott Alexander McDougall, a double murderer, in 2011, and adds Vojneski to a small and sinister group of lifers in the ACT's prison.

It means Vojneski, an ice user with a history of violence and mental health issues, can only ever be released on licence, after an application to the ACT Attorney-General.

Vojneski met Ms Conlon just months before he killed her.

Their fateful encounter in Ward 2n, a psychiatric unit at Calvary Hospital, led to a romantic relationship, which soon became marred by Vojneski's drug use, mental instability and violence.

On the night of Ms Conlon's death, Vojneski was becoming frustrated by his failed attempts to get ice on credit.

He learned that his girlfriend, who had been trying to wean him off drugs, had spent the last of her money on clothes.

A receipt for the clothes was found torn up in Ms Conlon's sink by police, and a cook's knife was missing from a nearby knife block.

Vojneski used the knife to stab and cut Ms Conlon 15 times, leaving her dead in the bedroom of her Macgregor home.

A teenage boarder who was living with Ms Conlon sat playing computer games with headphones on in the next room, unaware of the horror unfolding just metres away.

Justice Burns said Vojneski's crime could be placed in the worst category of murder and warranted a life sentence.

Throughout the sentencing, he variously described the crime as "senseless", "brutal", "remorseless", and "frenzied".

"Paula Conlon was a loving and much-loved mother and daughter," he said.

"You senselessly killed her in a sustained and brutal attack."

Mrs Bell sobbed after the sentence was handed down.

She said outside court that she felt relieved at the sentence, which would mean her three young granddaughters would never have to worry about Vojneski again.

"As a mother, it breaks my heart that I'm not going to grow old watching my little girl grow up with her children," she said.

"This man has taken that away from us all, and we'll never forgive him for that.

"But at least we know he'll never be out on the streets again."

The knife Vojneski used to kill his partner was never found, nor were the clothes that he had worn.

Justice Burns said it was likely someone helped him after he left Ms Conlon's house on foot.

Vojneski was found to have shown no remorse and taken no responsibility for the killing.

Justice Burns said the prisoner didn't even seem to regret his girlfriend's death.

His paranoid schizophrenia was said by his defence team to have lessened his moral culpability. His lawyers had also argued that his mental health condition would also make any term of imprisonment more severe.

Justice Burns agreed Vojneski's mental health problems meant he was less able to have self-control or use reasoned judgment.

But the judge found Vojneski knew what he was doing was wrong.

Mrs Bell, who travelled from England for the sentencing, said she'd never forget her daughter, and would continue to say goodnight and good morning to her every day.

She said the sentencing closed an extremely difficult chapter for the family, and they hoped they could start to rebuild their fractured lives.

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