Chilling details have emerged in court about the death of Victorian school girl Zoe Buttigieg, who was strangled in her own bedroom in October last year.
Bowe Maddigan pleaded guilty in August to murdering and indecently assaulting the 11-year-old Wangaratta girl after being invited to her family home by her mother and her mother’s partner.
A pre-sentencing hearing in the Supreme Court yesterday heard that after a night spent drinking and smoking cannabis with the couple, Maddigan entered Zoe’s room in the early hours of October 25 and coaxed her down from her top-level bunk, reports Nine News.
Maddigan then sexually assaulted the little girl, fatally strangled her and returned her lifeless body back to her bed.
She was found there, covered by her doona, later that morning.
Zoe Buttigieg was sexually assaulted and murdered in her own bedroom. Image: Facebook.
The 30-year-old was arrested hours later roughly 9km away, walking barefoot along the edge of a freeway with a knife stuffed down his pants and self-inflicted wounds.
Nine News reports that the court yesterday heard that Maddigan later told police that Zoe "looked like an angel" and he "wanted to have her all for myself".
Child exploitation material was also discovered on his mobile phone, including searches for "ballerinas and contortionists between the ages of eight and 10", according to ABC.
Maddigan had been released from prison just three weeks prior to the attack, having served a sentence for breaching parole. He had several prior convictions for violent offences.
Zoe's loved ones tendered heartbreaking victim impact statements to the court yesterday, including her mother, Janelle Saunders, who wrote of moving back to Wangaratta after her divorce because her daughter "felt safe there", reports Nine News.
"There is no joy anywhere without her," the court heard. "I'm stuck in the middle of the most horrible nightmare. But it's not a nightmare; it never ends."
Zoe's uncle, Matthew Carmody, told the court Maddigan was "like a real life bogeyman, you became all her worst nightmares."
They and other family and friends reportedly stormed out of the courtroom when Maddigan's lawyer read a brief statement of apology on his behalf, according to Nine News.
Outside the court, Carmody described the hearing as "a tough day" for the family,
"She was 11 years old and that's all she was, a little girl, and she's never going to be any older than 11," he said.
The hearing continues.