A Sydney woman was brutally slain and decapitated by the “selfish hands” of her own daughter after refusing the help she needed, a court has heard.
Kristi Torrisi said she would never forget or forgive her sister Jessica Camilleri for the unprovoked attack on Rita Camilleri in their St Clair home in July 2019.
“Killed and butchered like she was nothing, all because of a fit of rage,” she told the NSW Supreme Court sentence hearing on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old was found guilty of manslaughter by a jury after two forensic psychiatrists told the trial she was suffering from substantial impairment of the mind when she lost control and “saw red”.
Holding back tears Ms Torrisi described her mother as having a heart of gold and always putting other people first, including her daughter.
Her sister “had all the support she needed” and the court had only heard snippets of how her family continually tried to help her sibling.
“All of which (help) she refused. She preferred the attention her behaviour attracted instead.”
The horror-film fan had developed a disturbing obsession with the macabre from re-watching violent movies including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
While she had previously attacked her aunt, pulled people’s hair in public, and made hundreds of threatening calls to strangers, her mother believed her love could protect her from the world, the court heard.
Mary Hill said losing her “baby sister” at the hands of her niece was a double-edged sword that was beyond trauma.
“Rita’s unconditional love for her daughter was remarkable,” she said.
“She was blindsided and couldn’t see what I could see.”
She described saving her sister from drowning in a neighbour’s dam when they were children.
“But as hard as I tried I couldn’t save her from Jess.”
Her explosive rage was triggered when her mother threatened to call emergency services to put her in a mental institution.
After dragging her down the corridor by her hair to their kitchen she used seven knives, some of which she broke to inflict more than 100 wounds to her mother’s head, and another 100 defensive wounds were found on her body.
She later walked the decapitated head over to her neighbours to prove she wasn’t making the story up, the court heard.
Ms Hill said her family had been let down on numerous occasions by the mental health services.
“Until more resources and funding is put towards essential mental health services there will be more tragic cases that come before the courts like ours.”
Rita Camilleri’s niece, Stephanie Cook, spoke of the horrific tragedy their family had been trying to avoid for half of Jessica’s life.
Her cousin controlled and bullied her mother through her dominant behaviour and was slowly killing her even before the homicide, she said.
“I knew she was deeply disturbed for a long time, she frightened me at the best of times.”
Both Ms Torrisi and Ms Cook said they live in fear of the day Camilleri is released from prison, scared she will come after them.
The Crown submitted that Camilleri showed little remorse for her actions and concocted a story of self-defence to better her position in court.
This was later withdrawn with Justice Helen Wilson remarking on Wednesday that “she really had no way out of her responsibility of the crime”.
Camilleri’s barrister Nathan Steel agreed she did intend to kill her mother that evening but that she was clearly substantially impaired and would benefit from sustained and comprehensive treatment.
She told a psychologist she cried every night now realising it was all her fault her mother was dead, Mr Steel said.
“It didn’t hit me at first but then it hit me like a tonne of bricks like a mountain,” she said.
She is due to be sentenced in March.
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