Sean Christian Price should never have been free to murder schoolgirl Masa Vukotic, a Supreme Court judge yesterday saying the decision to grant the violent sex offender bail was a "catastrophic example of mismanagement".
In sentencing Price, 32, to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 38 years, the second-longest in Victorian history, judge Lex Lasry said it was the "complete folly" of authorities that enabled the dangerous and unpredictable rapist to be free the day that he chose Masa at random to be the target of his long-planned thrill kill.
Price, who had long history of mental illness and violent sexual attacks, and with a 10-year court-mandated supervision order over his head, was released on bail in October 2014, five months before the daylight murder of 17-year-old Masa.
"In a catastrophic example of mismanagement, whether on the part of Department of Corrections or the Adult Parole Board, a decision was made to release you into the community, and from the moment that regrettable decision was made the supervision order ceased to have any protective effect," Justice Lasry said to Price.
Despite admitting to his case worker that he harboured violent thoughts, and despite mental health concerns and antisocial behaviour being recorded by authorities in the days leading up to the murder, no action was taken and Price remained "unrestrained", Justice Lasry found.
"The complete folly of the decision to leave you unsupervised and untreated in the community since October 2014 was about to be demonstrated with tragic effect," he said. "I tried to understand how this could have occurred, given what was known about you and the violent conduct you might well engage in. For reasons I will return to later, I failed."
Victoria's bail and parole system has been the subject of a massive overhaul in the past 12 months in the wake of revelations more than a dozen people were killed by criminals on parole during the past four years.
A review of the system was ordered after Melbourne ABC employee Jill Meagher was raped and murdered by sexual predator Adrian Ernest Bayley, who was on parole and had previously been found guilty of more than 20 rape offences.
Justice Lasry was scathing of the decision to grant Price bail, saying it was known at the time of his release that he had a history of violent, random and unpredictable sexual attacks on vulnerable women, had refused mental health treatment and was in need of "violence interventions".
"To leave you effectively unattended in the community in the condition you were in October 2014 was extraordinary," he said. "Executive government, through whichever instrumentality was appropriate, has both failed to treat you and, as these terrible crimes demonstrate, failed to protect the community from the danger you clearly posed, with tragic results."
He described the murder of Masa as "disgusting" and Price's record of police interview after turning himself in as "chilling, pathetic and sad".
"You talked (in the police interview) about what you had done to Masa Vukotic as though it was done for some legitimate cause and almost something for you to be proud of," he said.
Masa was walking near her home in Melbourne's southeast in the early evening of March 17 last year when she was chosen by Price as the perfect "yuppie" victim for his planned kill. He stabbed her 49 times. Price told police he selected her as his victim because she was talking to a bird like "f...ing Snow White".
He had for days been thinking of killing someone and had armed himself with a large knife hidden in a sock in his bag.
"I was looking, looking and I just thought, 'f.. this, this is the moment'," he told police after the murder. "This one just ended up being the one. I just f...ing had to kill her."