Beheader learns fate for mum’s death


WARNING: Graphic

A Sydney woman who decapitated her mother and carried her head outside to show neighbours in a crime of "extraordinary viciousness and brutality" has been sentenced to 21 years in prison.

Jessica Camilleri, 27, killed her mother Rita in the kitchen of their St Clair home in July 2019, stabbing her at least 100 times in the head and neck and mutilating her body.

The attack lasted "many, many minutes" and involved seven knives, four of which broke during the onslaught due to the sheer force of Camilleri's attack.

The horror-movie obsessed woman then carried her mother's head outside, dropped it on the footpath and dialled triple-0, asking for police and an ambulance to help with a "life or death" situation.

Supreme Court Justice Helen Wilson described the crime as one of the "most serious instances of manslaughter it is possible ... to conjure".

The judge accepted Camilleri experienced episodes of uncontrollable, violent rage and this led to the attack on her mother.

But, the judge said, at least part of the attack - in which Camilleri removed her mother's eyeballs and squeezed them - was not anger but "indulging a sort of macabre curiosity sparked by her excessive viewing of horror movies".

Rita Camilleri was murdered by her daughter Jessica in 2019.
Rita Camilleri was murdered by her daughter Jessica in 2019.

Camilleri was charged with murder but pleaded not guilty on the basis of substantial impairment due to her constellation of mental disorders.

She was found guilty of manslaughter by a jury in December 2020.

Forensic psychiatrists testified at trial she had autism, obsessive compulsive disorder and a mild intellectual disability, and both agreed she had episodes of uncontrollable rage.

Camilleri was troubled from an early age, struggling at school and seeing numerous medical professionals for help.

Three months before she killed her mother she began to refuse all prescription medication and started seeing a naturopath.

Her mother Rita provided "every support" to her daughter, doing everything she could to ensure Camilleri was never institutionalised, the court was told.

Justice Wilson described her as Camilleri's "carer, protector, and only real friend".

She died aware of what was happening and trying to defend herself, Justice Wilson said.

"She must have been in extreme pain, shocked and terrified at what was being done to her by her own beloved child."

Camilleri was jailed for 21 years and seven months, with a non-parole period of 16 years and two months.

More to come

Originally published as Mum beheader's 'extraordinary brutality'


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