Joanne Howell’s family have finally received closure, as her killer was jailed for up to 24 years for her murder in an “extreme act of domestic violence”.
A man who killed his girlfriend and got away with the murder for more than a decade has finally learnt his fate.
Paul Charlton, 69, was on Wednesday jailed for up to 24 years in the Supreme Court for the 2007 murder of Melbourne singer Joanne Howell.
He appeared via video link from prison for his sentence, after telling staff he was too sick to come to court in person.
Charlton faced a three-week jury trial earlier this year and collapsed in the courtroom when he was found guilty.
Ms Howell wanted Charlton out of her home and her life in the days before he killed her.
They had argued for months and on the day she was killed she had given him four weeks to leave her Hughesdale unit, in Melbourne’s southeast.
But instead of leaving, Charlton hit Ms Howell in the head, rendering her unconscious, and strangled her using a ligature.
He then took the dog out for a walk for two hours to give himself an alibi, and called triple zero when he returned home.
Charlton tampered with the scene to make it look like someone had broken in through the garage and sexually assaulted Ms Howell.
He even applied for victim’s compensation after Ms Howell’s death.
Charlton got away with murder until he was charged in early 2021.
“For approximately 13 and half years you were able to live in the community without facing the full consequences of murdering Ms Howell,” Justice James Elliott told Charlton on Wednesday.
“You must now face the full consequences of your crime.”
The judge described the murder as “an extreme act of domestic violence” as he jailed him for up to 24 years.
Charlton closed his eyes and became teary as he learnt his fate, while Ms Howell’s family embraced each other in the courtroom.
Justice Elliott said Charlton took “deceitful steps” to conceal the murder and tried to deflect suspicion away from himself in interviews with police, where he put up alternate suspects.
He could not find on the evidence whether the blow to the head came before or after the strangulation, but said “whatever came first is immaterial”.
“On either scenario, you intended to kill Ms Howell,” he said.
Chalmers must spend at least 19 years in prison before he will become eligible for parole and has already served nine months of his sentence.