Heartbroken family of murdered Zoe Buttigieg, 11, speak out as killer Bowe Maddigan is sentenced

Bowe Maddigan had been released from prison just weeks before murdering Zoe Buttigieg after a party at her Wangaratta home. Photo / Hamish Blair / News Corp Australia
Bowe Maddigan had been released from prison just weeks before murdering Zoe Buttigieg after a party at her Wangaratta home. Photo / Hamish Blair / News Corp Australia

The family of slain Zoe Buttigieg has spoken out about its devastation as Bowe Maddigan is sentenced for the rape and murder of the 11-year-old during a house party last October.

Around 40 family members attended the sentencing hearing by Justice Lex Lasry which entered its second day at Wangaratta Courthouse in northern Victoria on Friday.

"This has impacted our family so dramatically leaving us heartbroken and in such pain," Stacy Lee Buttigieg told news.com.au.

A life cut short: Images of Zoe Buttigieg posted on Facebook by her grieving family following her murder in October last year. Photo / Facebook
A life cut short: Images of Zoe Buttigieg posted on Facebook by her grieving family following her murder in October last year. Photo / Facebook

Zoe's mother Janelle Saunders told the court in an impact statement that "life as I know it has finished for me".

She could not comprehend how Maddigan could have "such utter contempt for life" that he would murder a girl like Zoe - a happy, loving and fun child.

"It just hurts so bad," she wrote on Facebook. "Zoe was an only child and had so much life ahead of her.

"I just can't believe that someone would be so sick and evil and take a child's life away."

Zoe's aunt Jenny Buttigieg Zahra, who attended the sentencing, said "miss u so terribly it hurts".

Outside the court, Zoe's uncle Matthew Carmody said it had been tough for the family to hear the evidence.

Zoe was killed by a trusted guest in her own home. Photo / Facebook
Zoe was killed by a trusted guest in her own home. Photo / Facebook


"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 court heard that 30-year-old Bowe Evan Levi Maddigan had entered Zoe's room after a heavy night of partying because he wanted her sexually for himself.

Maddigan had been released from prison just weeks earlier and had been in Wangaratta for 11 days when he was invited to a Saturday night party at Ms Saunders' house last October.

Friends had told Ms Saunders about Maddigan's criminal record for violent offences, but she decided to "give him the benefit of the doubt" and allowed him into her house.

Ms Saunders had moved to Wangaratta when she and Zoe's father broke up because it was where she grew up and "always felt safe there".

Zoe Buttiegieg as a baby pictured with her father who died in an accident six years ago. Photo / Facebook
Zoe Buttiegieg as a baby pictured with her father who died in an accident six years ago. Photo / Facebook


Steve Buttigieg, who was from Melbourne, had since died.

On the night of the house party, Maddigan consumed alcohol and cannabis.

According to notes taken by a Justice Health medical professional while Maddigan was in custody, he said that Zoe "looked like an angel" and he "wanted to have her all for myself".

In the early hours of October 25, 2015, Maddigan made his way to Zoe's bedroom and told her to come down from the top bunk of her bed, Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions John Champion told the court.

The girl did and Maddigan then sexually assaulted her before strangling the child and putting her back in her bed.

The last picture ever taken of 11-year-old Zoe Buttigieg on the day before she was murdered by Bowe Maddigan. Photo / Facebook
The last picture ever taken of 11-year-old Zoe Buttigieg on the day before she was murdered by Bowe Maddigan. Photo / Facebook


Around 6.30am, police found Maddigan walking barefoot and dazed along the Hume Freeway 9km from Zoe's house.

He had self-inflicted cuts to his arms and a steak knife down his pants. Police arrested him and took him to Wangaratta Hospital's psychiatric ward as an involuntary patient.

At 11am, Ms Saunders woke at home and went to Zoe's bedroom where she found her daughter's body in bed, and naked from the waist down beneath the doona.

Maddigan was charged with Zoe's murder and police found child exploitation material on his phone and internet searches for videos and pictures of young girls.

He told police in an interview: "It was like a bad movie. I can't stop the button, I can't pause the button, I can't rewind the button".

Ms Saunders and supporters stormed out of the court when Maddigan's lawyer started to read a brief apology letter to the court.

Outside the court, Matthew Carmody said Maddigan was "like a real life bogeyman, you became all her worst nightmares".

Justice Lasry may reserve his sentencing decision to a later date.

Zoe Buttigieg and dog Jax in the backyard of the Wangaratta home where prison parolee Bowe Maddigan murdered her last October. Photo / Facebook
Zoe Buttigieg and dog Jax in the backyard of the Wangaratta home where prison parolee Bowe Maddigan murdered her last October. Photo / Facebook

- news.com.au

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