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A Melbourne man who murdered his two young daughters by smothering them with a pillow has been sentenced to life in jail.

Charles Mihayo, 36, smothered his daughters Savannah, 4, and Indianna, 3, at his unit at Watsonia in April.

Indianna, 3, (left) and Savannah, 4, were at the centre of a bitter custodial dispute image www.crimefiles.net

He pleaded guilty to the killings in August and was today sentenced in the Supreme Court to a minimum of 31 years in jail.

Prosecutors said Mihayo was locked in a bitter custodial dispute with the girls’ mother, his former wife, at the time and had acted out of revenge.

The court heard Mihayo sent a text message to his former wife shortly before he killed them suggesting she had “won”, and he was giving up his rights to see the girls.

He told her he wanted to see them “one last time” and when she took them to see him, he dressed the girls up in new dresses he had bought for them.

He then filmed them dancing to music, before smothering them with pillows.

After killing them, Mihayo bathed them, then redressed them in ballerina dresses.

He then phoned triple-0 to report a double murder and when police arrive he said: “It’s done, I’ve killed them. I’ve killed my kids.”

Mihayo was arrested at the scene and confessed to police, telling them “there was no good reason” for the killings but it “made sense at the time”.

When police asked why he had killed his daughters, he told them “you’d have to ask her”, meaning his ex-wife.

In sentencing, Victorian Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry said the conflict with his wife had inexplicably motivated his “hideous crimes”.

“I simply do not understand why, when the continuing argument was between you and your ex-wife about these children, you made them pay with their lives in order to inflict pain and loss on your ex-wife,” he said.

Nothing can justify what Mihayo did: judge

Mihayo will serve a minimum of 31 years in prison for murdering his daughters.image www.crimefiles.net

Justice Lasry said Mihayo had given into the “basest of instincts”.

“You decided to demonstrate to your ex-wife that she did not have the control over the children and their relationship with you that she thought she had,” he said.

The judge said while Mihayo had taken responsibility for what he had done, he did not seem to regret it.

“I am not at all sure that you have a genuine sense or desire to amend the sin or wrongdoing such as to enable me to conclude you are remorseful,” he said.

“You do not appear to me to be crushed or broken in spirit by your wrongdoing.”

Family ‘can finally start healing process’

The girls’ family issued a statement after the sentence was handed down.

“There is no adequate punishment or jail sentence for filicide,” the statement said.

“Forever missed, loved and never forgotten.

“We would like to take this opportunity to firstly thank our family and friends for their ongoing support and the community for their thoughts and prayers during this devastating time.

“We ask the media to please respect our privacy so we can finally start the grieving and healing process.”

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