Jailed for strangling wife, burying her in shallow grave
A FORMER bouncer has been jailed for at least 16-and-a-half years for strangling his teenage bride whose body was buried in a shallow grave on a NSW beach more than two decades ago.
Steve Frank Fesus, 47, was found guilty last year of murdering Jodie Fesus, 18, in August 1997 at their Shellharbour home on the NSW south coast before burying her body in a shallow grave at Seven Mile Beach, near Gerroa.
In the NSW Supreme Court today, Justice Peter Johnson jailed Fesus for 22 years, with a non-parole period of 16 years and six months.
Today, Justice Johnson called the killing "a heartless and gratuitous act, the gravity of offending is high" as he handed down his sentence.
During the trial, Crown prosecutor Greg Smith SC outlined a series of sordid actions Fesus carried out after killing his wife, including taking her two young children in their pyjamas to Shellharbour Workers' Club on August 12 to construct a scenario where there was time for her to have disappeared.
Fesus said when he returned home to find his wife gone, after he'd left her sleeping in bed.
Instead of calling friends and family that day, phone records show Fesus called Pizzaworld, followed by two phone calls to a work colleague with whom his wife believed he was having an affair.
Two days later he suggested her clothes should be given to the Smith Family, knowing she would never return home.
The day after that - on August 14 - Fesus reported his wife missing at Warilla police station, then shortly afterwards became "sexually intimate" with his colleague in a car park nearby.
On August 25 - two weeks after he claimed she had packed her things and left - Fesus filled out a child maintenance form and ticked a box indicating his wife was dead.
The form - obtained by The Daily Telegraph - shows how Fesus then scribbled out his previous answer and ticked the box indicating his partner was still living after he was quizzed by the man who was interviewing him for the single parent pension.
The Crown case was that Fesus was desperate for money and concerned about the custody of Jodie's two children when he travelled to Gerroa to uncover her body in order to qualify for a pension.
A woman told police she spotted Fesus close to the burial site, several days before police receiving an anonymous call from a male and uncovered the beach grave on September 15, 1997.
After Jodie's body was discovered, the woman again saw Fesus on the nightly news as police towed away his red station wagon from his house and she came forward to police.
Earlier the court heard Fesus' relationship with his wife had deteriorated and that he strangled her during an argument.