A mum�s final act saved her daughter
Selina Bello leaves court. Picture: Michael Wilson

Angela Ferullo lived for her kids. And brutally, and tragically, she died for one of them as well.

The fun-loving mother of four was stabbed to death by her former husband James Bill Payet in June in a crime that shocked Perth. And for the first time it has been revealed the 43-year-old made the ultimate sacrifice at the Plush Hair salon in Como, throwing herself on top of her pregnant daughter Selina Bello to protect her from the crazed Payet.

In the Supreme Court yesterday, Payet pleaded guilty to murdering Ms Ferullo, grievously wounding Ms Bello and assaulting two others who crossed his path.

The build-up to what was described as an "eruption of violence" on that Monday left Ms Bello and her supporters in tears.

Ms Ferullo and Payet had been married for 12 years but separated in 2011 after a tempestuous and violent relationship.

The popular mother had taken a fly-in, fly-out job, and had agreed Payet could stay in her Success unit while he tried to sort out his life.

He had a history of drug abuse, a conviction for drug dealing in 1997 and mental health issues dating back to a childhood ruined by a cruel and sadistic father.

But he was considered a father by Ms Ferullo's children, and circumstances kept the couple in proximity, if not personally intimate.

The situation, however, was not working.

In March, Payet had come to Ms Ferullo's home with a hunting knife, telling her he would slit her throat if she told the police.

He was trying to wean himself off the antidepressant medication he had been taking for years, while increasing the steroids he was ingesting in the hope of finding a new partner.

And, as his discontent grew, so his rage boiled over.

On June 18, Ms Bello got a text from the man she called Dad.

"I'm off my pills, and I am ready to decimate any c--- that crosses my path," it read.

Five days later was supposed to be a joyous day, the christening of Ms Ferullo's granddaughter.

But when Ms Ferullo returned to Perth for the ceremony but did not return to the house, Payet exploded.

He trashed the house, and burnt Ms Ferullo's wedding dress. He told her he had also taken the box containing her mother's ashes.

The tension was so high that Payet was told to stay away from the christening.

But he didn't, forcing Ms Ferullo to avoid the celebration - and then to ring police to ask them to remove her former partner from her house.

Officers put a 72-hour order in place, banning him from returning. But that didn't stop him.

Overnight, he slipped back into the house and hid in the roof, with food, a laptop, a doona and two knives.

Payet was waiting for his former wife but was instead discovered by her lodger.

He turned on him, telling him he intended to burn his wife's face off, to cut her fingers off, to slice her throat.

The lodger escaped - leaving Payet to persuade a stranger to give him a lift, and then convincing a friend to lend him his car in which he drove to Como.

Ms Ferullo was at the salon, with the intention of going to court to take a violence restraining order out against Payet.

Ms Bello was also there, with a client. She saw Payet first, and rushed to lock the door but was too late.

Payet grabbed her and threw her to the floor.

Customer Peggy Drew saw the flash of the blade as Payet thrust it at the screaming mother-to-be.

And so did Ms Ferullo.

In act of selfless desperation, she flung herself across her daughter, absorbing the blows Payet was raining down.

The knife plunged into her chest, her stomach, and fatally her arm, severing an artery and leaving her unconscious and bleeding.

Ms Bello had serious cuts to an arm, her chest and spleen, which needed surgery that put her unborn baby at risk.

And Payet, after making a botched suicide attempt in the salon, fled to a storage unit, a fast-food restaurant, then to hospital where police met him.

Prosecutor Linda Petrusa told the court Payet had gone to "extraordinary lengths" to achieve his goal - to attack and kill Ms Ferullo - before making a "cowardly" attempt on his own life.

Justice Lindy Jenkins said she needed more time to consider the sentence, which she will deliver on Friday.

She flung herself across her daughter, absorbing the blows Payet was raining down."

The West Australian

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