true crime

The horrific contents of notebook kept by James Holdom who murdered young mum and daughter.

The following contains content relating to child sexual assault, which may be distressing. The BlueKnot Foundation offers support for survivors of childhood trauma. Please call 1300 657 380.
With AAP.

On Friday, a statement from Bruce Pearce was read to the NSW Supreme Court. Addressing the man convicted of killing his daughter, 20-year-old Karlie Pearce-Stevenson, and his two-year-old granddaughter, Khandalyce, he posed just one question: “Why?”

Bruce’s dreams of teaching the toddler how to fish and catch crabs, just as he had done with her mum, had been ripped away by this man, this murderer, Daniel Holdom.

“The hate that I feel is consuming, I have never hated anyone the way that I hate you,” the grieving grandfather’s statement read. “I would like to see the death penalty for you, but even that would not be enough.”

Holdom, 43, pleaded guilty in July – one week ahead of his trial – to the December 2008 murder of Karlie, whom he had been dating for two months, and her young daughter; crimes described during Friday’s sentencing hearing, as “callous, depraved and grossly heinous”.

The extent of his depravity was revealed via never-before-seen court documents, which, according to The Daily Telegraph, detailed the contents of a notebook belonging to Holdom that featured the names of children alongside words like “consent” and “forced”.

Karlie and Khandalcye. Via NSW Police
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The murder of Karlie and 'Candles'.

Ms Pearce-Stevenson's remains were found in the notorious Belanglo State Forest in August 2010, but were not identified until her daughter's remains were discovered in a suitcase dumped beside a South Australian highway in July 2015.

Her mother's unidentified body was for years known as "the Angel of Belanglo" due to a t-shirt she was found wearing with the word "angelic" on it.

She had bone fractures indicative of being forcefully stomped on or kneed in the chest, the agreed facts state.

"This was a thrill kill, as evidenced by the taking, collecting and keeping of the trophy photographs he took of Karlie around the time of her death," crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC said.

Her blonde toddler, suffocated by Holdom "probably" in a hotel room in Narrandera four days later, was found with balls of dishcloth stuffed in her mouth, layers of tape wound from her chin to her eyes, and a disposable nappy wrapped around her skull.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, a police fact sheet tendered to the court said there was a “sexual motive in the murder” of the toddler and that “the offender was at least attempting to, or planning to, sexually assault [her] at the time of her death.”

"Both murders fall within the worst case and can aptly be described as atrocious, detestable, hateful, gravely reprehensible and extremely wicked," Tedeschi said.

Holdom also used bank cards and personal papers to steal more than $70,000 from Ms Pearce-Stevenson's accounts, and a mobile phone to create "false indications" to her family that she and Khandalyce were alive.

Holdom. Image: Facebook.
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The killer, caught.

Holdom was arrested by NSW Homicide Squad detectives in October 2015, after police were reportedly able to trace Holdom's mobile phone to the Belanglo State Forest at the time Karlie was killed.

During the sentencing hearing on Friday, the court heard Holdom has committed another 20 fraud offences, and was behind the wheel of a car between Alice Springs and Adelaide when it crashed, leaving his then-partner in a wheelchair and killing her two children.

For the murders of Karlie and Khandalyce, Tedeschi is calling for two life sentences.

Defence barrister Greg Woods argued that his client suffered a deeply abusive childhood and should serve lengthy jail time, but not life.

“Though he has done dreadful things, to which he has pleaded guilty, dreadful things were done to him,” Woodstold the court, according to The Daily Telegraph.

After victim impact statements were read to the Supreme Court, Holdom offered an eleventh-hour apology after hearing of the fallout of his "grave crimes".

But Justice Robert Allan Hulme seemed unconvinced.

"I'll have to think about whether I give that any weight at all. Why should I?"

Due weight, however, will undoubtedly be given to the words of Karlie and Khandalyce's loved ones. To Bruce Pearce, and to Karlie's stepfather who spoke on behalf of her mother, Colleen Povey, who died from breast cancer in February 2012 - four years after the 20-year-old was killed and three before her fate was known.

"Her very last distinguishable sentence ... Is Karlie and Khandles here yet?," Scott told the court.

"I was holding her hand when she died and I knew that Karlie was not coming."

Holdom is listed for sentence on November 9.

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