Mother walks free with a ‘measure of mercy’
141 days in custody deemed sufficient penalty for first time offender
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.