Dieter Pfennig will remain in a prison cell for the rest of his life after he was sentenced to 35 years without parole for the murder of 10-year-old Adelaide schoolgirl Louise Bell in 1983.
Added to Pfennig’s previous sentence for an unrelated murder, it makes a combined total of 60 years in prison without being eligible for parole.
Louise Bell was last seen alive in January 1983 when she went to bed at the family home in Hackham West in Adelaide’s south.
Her body has never been found.
Her disappearance prompted a police search of then unprecedented proportions, with her disappearance becoming one of South Australia’s most puzzling cold cases.
Pfennig, 68, was last month found guilty in the South Australian Supreme Court of her murder.
The ‘most evil’ of crimes
Justice Michael David told Pfennig his was “the most evil” of crimes and it was in no way “ameliorated by the passage of time”.
“The shock and anxiety that your offence caused the South Australian community cannot be compared to the distress that must have been suffered by the parents and family of Louise Bell,” he said.
“The effect of my sentence will be that you most certainly spend the rest of your days in jail.”
Pfennig will not be eligible for parole until he is aged 103.
Prosecutor Sandi McDonald had urged Justice David to hand down the toughest penalty possible.
“This man is entitled to no mercy,” she said.
“Your honour should impose a non-parole period that would make it clear to the community, and to this man, that he has no expectation of any life outside of custody.
“It would be completely and utterly inappropriate to impose the mandatory minimum.”