Mother walks free with a ‘mea­sure of mercy’

141 days in cus­tody deemed suf­fi­cient penalty for first time of­fender

Myrtleford Times - - News - By SA­MAN­THA DICK

MARIA Car­da­mone walked free on Fri­day af­ter spend­ing less than five months be­hind bars for her role in at­tempt­ing to per­vert the course of jus­tice by con­spir­ing to kill a key wit­ness in the mur­der case against her son, Michael Car­da­mone.

The Wan­garatta woman, 78, ap­peared in cus­tody at Wan­garatta County Court on Fri­day, where Judge Ger­ard Mul­laly ruled that her 141 days spent be­hind bars served as suf­fi­cient pun­ish­ment for at­tempt­ing to ar­range a ‘hit man’ to kill a crown wit­ness in her son’s mur­der case.

Judge Mul­laly said shortly af­ter Michael Car­da­mone, 50, was charged with the mur­der of Whorouly woman, Karen Chet­cuti, 49, Mrs Car­da­mone “came to the blinded view that (her son) was be­ing falsely im­pli­cated”.

The court heard Mrs Car­da­mone and her son shared a num­ber of coded tele­phone calls while he was in cus­tody await­ing trial, which re­vealed that she was asked to with­draw $9000 and ar­range for it to be col­lected.

Mrs Car­da­mone handed over a Har­vey Nor­man shop­ping bag con­tain­ing $9000 to an un­der­cover po­lice of­fi­cer at a lo­ca­tion in Reser­voir on March 23.

Judge Mul­laly ac­cepted the pros­e­cu­tion’s sub­mis­sion that Mrs Car­da­mone knew the funds were go­ing to­wards an ef­fort to pre­vent Myrtle­ford man, Ed­ward Ge­orge, from giv­ing ev­i­dence against her son, how­ever, she did not know that the plan was to mur­der Mr Ge­orge.

He also said that Mrs Carda- mone did not know the de­tails of the planned mur­der, which in­cluded stag­ing it as a sui­cide and forc­ing Mr Ge­orge to write a false con­fes­sion to the mur­der of Ms Chet­cuti.

The court heard that Mrs Car­da­mone’s “prodi­gious work ethic” over many decades of farm­ing and cater­ing in Myrtle­ford was viewed favourably by the court.

“You, Mrs Car­da­mone, have never been in any trou­ble be­fore,” Judge Mul­laly told the court.

He said he ac­cepted that Mrs Car­da­mone suf­fered from “sig­nif­i­cant de­pres­sion” and de­men­tia, which acted to lower her moral cul­pa­bil­ity and there­fore mit­i­gated the penalty for her crime.

“In my view, your clin­i­cal de­pres­sion and the on­set of de­men­tia and cog­ni­tive de­te­ri­o­ra­tion are im­pli­cated in your poor de­ci­sion to as­sist your son by be­ing the con­duit for the money,” he told the court.

“As stated, you were vul­ner­a­ble and mal­leable and thus you en­gaged in a mis­guided and ill­con­ceived course of be­hav­iour.”

He also ex­plained that Mrs Car­da­mone’s plea of guilty re­duced her sen­tence be­cause it showed that she ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity and al­lowed the case to move quickly through the Courts.

“As a first of­fender at your ad­vanced age, you are en­ti­tled to ask for and re­ceive a mea­sure of mercy,” he said.

“In this case, the mercy sought is not to avoid jail al­to­gether, but to avoid any fur­ther jail than what you have served.”

Mrs Car­da­mone was trans­ported to Wan­garatta Po­lice Sta­tion, where she was re­leased without pa­role con­di­tions into the care of her daugh­ter.

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