A man has been given two life sentence jail terms for brutally killing a mother and daughter, dumping one in a NSW forest and the other in a suitcase on the side of the road in South Australia.
Daniel James Holdom, 44, killed Karlie Pearce-Stevenson, 20, and her daughter Khandalyce, 2, four days apart in December 2008.
Justice Hulme sentenced Daniel Holdom
The 44-year-old was found guilty over the brutal killing of a mother, Karlie Pearce-Stevenson and her daughter Khandalyce, four days apart in December of 2008.
He had been in a short-term relationship with Ms Pearce-Stevenson when he led her into Belanglo State Forest in south-eastern NSW on December 15, 2008, and killed her by stepping on her throat, crushing her windpipe.
Holdom used foreign objects to sexually assault her at the time of her death and took “trophy photographs” of the body, which were later found on an SD memory card.
He then collected Khandalyce and suffocated her to death, dumping her body in a suitcase on the side of the road at Wynarka in South Australia.
The young mother’s remains were found by trail bike riders in 2010, and her daughter’s remains were discovered in 2015. The same year, a call to Crime Stoppers linked the two deaths.
Holdom pleaded guilty to the murders in July.
On Friday, he attempted to withdraw his guilty plea for the murder of Khandalyce moments before Justice Robert Allan Hulme began sentencing him in the NSW Supreme Court.
His barrister told the court Holdom had encountered “difficulty” digesting material in the brief of evidence while he was held in custody, and there was a question about the integrity of the plea.
Justice Hulme rejected the application, saying he was not satisfied there was a basis for the plea to be withdrawn.
He sentenced Holdom to two sentences of life terms behind bars for his “callous” and “sadistic” crimes, which were of “very grave heinousness”.
Justice Hulme said both murders were at the top of the range of objective seriousness, and Ms Pearce-Stevenson was murdered with “appalling depravity”.
In a statement on behalf of the family, victim advocate Michael O’Connell said Holdom had “forfeited his right to existence” and no sentence would ever bring final closure.
“He murdered a young mother and her child. He stole their whole lives from them, and from us,” Mr O’Connell said.
“His brutality will haunt us forever. Nothing done to him will bring Karlie and Khandalyce back or repay the toll on us.
“From now until he dies, young women and children must be protected – their safety must be paramount. We do not want another family to suffer as we have.”
Holdom’s sentencing hearing was told Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s murder was motivated by many factors, including “to gain access to her young daughter Khandalyce, in whom [Holdom] had already displayed a sexual interest”, and financial gain.
Daniel James Holdom in 2015, when he was charged by police. Credit:NSW Police
After the murders, Holdom used Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s mobile phone for three years, including to text message her mother to make it appear as though she was still alive. He stole about $72,000 from her bank accounts, which he used until 2012, by collecting Centrelink payments and charging expenses to her credit card.
The mother and daughter were reported missing in 2009, but that missing persons report was withdrawn after Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s family received a text message from her phone.
Justice Hulme said Holdom had a criminal record in three states and the Northern Territory for charges including custody of a knife in a public place and dishonesty.
In 2014, Holdom was convicted of sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 10 after he sexually assaulted a nine-year-old girl at a caravan park on the NSW Central Coast. He was imprisoned for a maximum of four years and three months.
Holdom sat silently in the dock while he was sentenced on Friday, leaning forward and resting his head on his hand.
Members of the public gallery applauded when the sentences were handed down.
Speaking outside court, NSW Police Homicide Squad commander Scott Cook said “outstanding police work” had brought a good result for the community.
He was flanked by family members of the murdered mother and daughter, who he said had “suffered enormously for the past ten years”.
“I hope today brings some conclusion to them, to the trauma that they’ve been through,” he said.
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