Steven Hunter — a "person of interest" in the homicide investigation into the death of 22-year-old Sarah Cafferkey — is a man besotted with his chihuahua.
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Police hunt convicted killer
Police search for Steven James Hunter as a person of interest in the death Sarah Cafferkey. CRIME STOPPERS: 1800 333 000.
But the love he shows the tiny canine — he refers to her on social media as his "baby geel" and agonises over whether he can bear to leave her — is more than that given to a teenage work colleague he brutally stabbed to death in April 1986.
Just a year after graduating from Niddrie High School, Hunter murdered Jacqueline Mathews, 18, in a fit of jealous pique.
Hunter was incensed that his advances — made in a car parked outside a Tullamarine supermarket — were rejected, so he stabbed her seven times in the heart and throat.
The two had worked together at the Safeway Hypermarket in Gladstone Park. He once fell on top of her, kissed her, and was heard to say: "Now that I have had a taste of her, I won't rest."
Hunter burned Miss Mathews' body, threw the knife into a rubbish skip and twice in the ensuing days denied to police, in the face of pressure from friends to confess, that he was responsible.
That side of Hunter, who more recently has lived in Bacchus Marsh and Point Cook, sits in stark contrast to his adoration for the chihuahua he refers to as his "Lil'Girl".
He has posted several photos of the pooch over the past 12 months on Facebook, where he told of his affection.
"Doing it DOGGY STYLE with my newest BABY GEEL xo" read one post.
Another photo had this caption: "Playing with my baby before work and wondering how can I possibly leave her for a 3 day rock climbing trip next weekend????"
A third read: "Thinking of my baby all day, so good to get home for cuddles.they say it's puppy love??... It really is!"
Now that I have had a taste of her, I won't rest.
In another, he talks of how his "early starts are killing me" and his "doona is hard to leave behind, not to mention my Lil'Girl".
A jury convicted Hunter and in sentencing in 1988, Justice Howard Nathan told Hunter he would not be jailed for life because he had chosen not to "extinguish all the chances in life" he had.
But, Justice Nathan conceded the chances for Hunter, then a father of one in a de facto relationship with the boy's mother, were limited.
"A penalty should not extinguish all the chances in life you may have," Justice Nathan said.
"But you will serve so long in prison that your chances of setting up a career, your chances of obtaining any worthwhile job experience, your chances of being a father again, or in fact, even being a father to your existing child have all but gone.
"Your son will be brought up fatherless to all intents and purposes ... you will be a drain on this community for many, many years with very little chance ever of returning to the community as a useful or decent citizen."
Hunter's counsel tried to have his moral culpability for the murder reduced by submitting that his regular use of the drug speed had reduced his inhibitions and was taken to keep him awake so he could keep working. Hunter had two full-time jobs and worked a third part time to support his family.
Justice Nathan accepted that the drugs did reduce Hunter's inhibitions, but said that it was relatively insignificant in sentencing.
Jailed for 16 years, to serve a minimum of 13, Hunter had his claims of remorse rejected.
"Your efforts to obscure your part in this crime were compounded in a cowardly and heinous way by attempting to burn the body beyond recognition," Justice Nathan said, adding that the only remorse Hunter had was for "self-preservation".
He went to court with three prior convictions — two lots in 1983 for burglary, theft, criminal damage and discharging a missile and for assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and carrying an offensive weapon. In 1984, he was convicted of trespass.