A man who stabbed his flatmate and burned her body while her two young children waited in a nearby car has been given a life sentence.
Cameron James Russell, 28, will spend at least 15 and a half years behind bars after admitting to the murder of Carli Shaw, 27, in the kitchen of their shared Rivervale unit in Perth’s southern suburbs on February 7, 2008.
Russell had been facing a retrial after his original murder conviction and 18-year minimum life sentence were quashed by the West Australian Court of Appeal in November.
The court ruled he had suffered a miscarriage of justice in relation to “highly prejudicial” evidence given by his then ex-girlfriend - who can’t be named due to her age - during their joint trial in 2010.
The teenage girl received a 12-month suspended jail term for helping Russell dispose of Ms Shaw’s body when he set it alight in bushland after stabbing her following an argument over two stolen potatoes.
During the original trial the court heard Russell stabbed Ms Shaw twice - with the tip of a knife later found lodged in her jaw - before washing her body, driving it to a remote location and burning it with petrol and logs.
Ms Shaw’s two young children, aged two and five, sat in the car with Russell’s girlfriend as he disposed of their mother’s body.
Russell pleaded guilty to Ms Shaw’s murder in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, avoiding a retrial and earning a reduced sentence.
Justice Lindy Jenkins took into account his late guilty plea and the fact he would serve most of his time in protective custody, after Ms Shaw’s jailed partner had threatened him in prison.
However, the judge said Russell “violently killed a young woman without provocation” and then “callously” disposed of her body to cover his crime.
Russell bowed his head and cried silently in the dock as his crimes were read out.His sentence was backdated to the time of his arrest, on February 8, 2008, and he will be eligible for parole in 2023.
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