The daughter of accused Melbourne wife-killer Borce Ristevski says her father was a calming influence on her mother Karen Ristevski and appeared “very worried” when she went missing.
Sarah Ristevski celebrated her 21st birthday about a month before her mum vanished from the family’s Avondale Heights home in June 2016.
Sarah’s father Borce told police that Karen went for a walk to clear her mind after an argument and never returned.
But detectives allege Borce killed his wife, dumped her body in the bush and lied to police to avoid detection.
Sarah, now 23, gave evidence on Tuesday as a magistrate tries to decide if there is enough evidence to send her father to trial.
The young graphic designer broke down in tears as she recalled the happy life she had before her mother went missing.
“I didn’t grow up in a household where there were a lot of arguments,” Sarah told Melbourne Magistrates Court.
“Mum would get annoyed. She had the same personality as me.
“And dad was always the calm one. He would calm us down.”
When asked about the nature of her parents’ arguments, Sarah used an example of her dad being unable to resist a bargain at the supermarket.
He would go out to buy milk and return with biscuits as well.
“Dad would say ‘well the Shapes are only a dollar each’ and mum would say ‘but now I’m going to eat them and my thighs will get fat’,” Sarah said.
“That would be an argument for me.”
As Sarah sat in the witness box her father Borce sat in the dock wearing a charcoal suit over a white shirt. He appeared focused.
She said her father was distressed after Karen’s disappearance.
“He was extremely worried,” she said of Borce.
“He was very concerned about where my mum was.”
Karen was missing for eight months before her remains were found at Macedon Regional Park by two horticulturists in February 2017.
Borce, who was charged in December, is fighting the murder allegations.
Police claim he lied about his movements on the day of his wife’s disappearance.
Borce originally told police he stayed at home doing bookkeeping on the day his wife vanished, but later changed his statement, saying he went for a drive in her car.
“The accused deliberately excluded and withheld information and fabricated certain facts to distance himself from the crime,” Mr Fisher has told the court.
Detectives later used CCTV footage, telecommunications data and fuel consumption analysis to form their view that Borce killed his wife, dumped her body and returned home.
Karen’s cause of death could not be established by an autopsy.
The Ristevskis were in dire financial straits at the time of the murder and would sometimes argue about money and business, the court has been told.
Their fashion store Bella Bleu had lost more than $320,000 over a four-year period and they had mounting credit card debt of more than $82,000.