July 25, 2018 20:08:04
A lawyer for Borce Ristevski, who is accused of murdering his wife Karen, has told a court his client had nothing to gain financially from her death.
David Hallowes made the statement while arguing for Mr Ristevksi’s charge of murder to be downgraded to manslaughter.
Mr Hallowes said the evidence heard at the two-week committal hearing was not of a sufficient weight to warrant a charge of murder, as there was no evidence of murderous intent or premeditation.
Mr Ristevski’s lawyer conceded there was enough evidence for his client to face a charge of manslaughter, but said his client still maintained his innocence.
“There’s no evidence of violence in the relationship or the threat of violence,” Mr Hallowes said.
“There is no financial gain to the accused by the death of his wife … there’s no evidence showing any life insurance possibilities.”
Mr Hallowes dismissed allegations from the prosecution that the perilous financial situation of the couple’s clothing business at the time of Ms Ristevski’s death had anything to do with her killing.
Mr and Ms Ristevski operated a clothing business under the company name Warrant Brands and had debts of more than $400,000 at the time of Ms Ristevski’s disappearance.
Mr Ristevski, 54, is charged with murdering his wife at their Avondale Heights home in June 2016.
Ms Ristevski’s body was found eight months after she was reported missing in bushland near Mount Macedon.
Mr Ristevski is facing a committal hearing in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court to establish if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial.
It is expected he will plead not guilty if the case proceeds before a jury.
Assets moved to company in Borce Ristevski’s name
The court also heard that revenue from Karen and Mr Ristevski’s clothing business was moved to another company solely in Mr Ristevski’s name the year his wife went missing.
Financial issues forced the couple to close their retail outlet in Broadmeadows at the end of 2015, but they continued to operate the shop, Bella Bleu, at the Water Gardens Shopping Centre.
Gerard Curtin, a forensic accountant with Victoria Police, told the court that between May 2015 and June 2016 when Ms Ristevski went missing, Warrant Brands was having serious cash flow issues.
“It was a constant struggle … revenues weren’t enough to meet the business expenses,” he said.
“If you can’t cover your rent, wages and stock, you won’t be surviving.”
Mr Curtin told the court that Mr Ristevski set up a separate company, Envirovision, in December, 2015. He said that Mr and Ms Ristevski’s daughter, Sarah, was listed as a shareholder.
Mr Curtin told the court that for some reason, the revenue from Warrant Brands started to transfer to Envirovision in 2016.
“As of June 30 , Warrant Brands no longer has any income because that’s given to Envirovision. It’s not able to meet any of its loans and any liabilities,” he said.
“It basically took on the sales revenue from the shop at Water Gardens.”
When he was asked why this would have happened, Mr Curtain said he had no idea.
“The debts of Warrant Brands, if it was an attempt to avoid that debt, I don’t know.”
“It doesn’t have any impact, they still have those liabilities.”
The court also heard the couple refinanced their home twice in May 2013 and in 2014.
July 25, 2018 15:40:48