A young mother’s estranged husband took grisly photos of her crumpled, dead body after strangling her in the family home, a court has heard.
Zoran Pandilovski, 47, strangled his childhood sweetheart Elaine Pandilovski, 44, in July 2020 in a fit of jealous rage.
On Friday, the cowardly brute faced Victoria’s High Court for a pre-sentence plea hearing, where his victim’s devastated loved ones finally got a chance to confront him.
The body of Mrs. Pandilovski was discovered under her home in Mill Park, on the northern outskirts of Melbourne, after Pandilovski was involved in a serious car accident.
Elaine Pandilovski was a loving mother and took care of children with special needs. Her body was found under the house she shared with her son
Zoran Pandilovski (left), their son (center) and Elaine Pandilovski
The court heard that Pandilovski had gone to his estranged wife’s house under the guise of retrieving their son’s iPad.
The couple had been separated for 20 months after previous allegations of domestic violence.
Crown Prosecutor Neill Hutton said police determined Pandilovski likely assaulted Elaine in the living room, with detectives finding evidence of a struggle.
Forensic experts would later determine that she had been fighting for her life, with traces of Pandilovski’s DNA under her fingernails.
When he finished squeezing life out of the help of the teacher, who had devoted her life to raising their son, he dragged her down a flight of stairs to the basement of the house where he put her in a storage closet.
Before leaving, Pandilovski inexplicably took two photos of Elaine’s dead body — images later discovered on his phone.
Pandilovski’s attorney David Hallowes, SC was unable to provide an explanation as to why his client took the photos, but refuted suggestions that they were “trophy photos.”
‘WWe’re saying you shouldn’t find out that it was somehow a trophy photo that was taken. We say it doesn’t give him any credit, but we say it’s not something your honor should do against him,” he said.
“In a way, it doesn’t really fit the story of what happens next, and we say it’s speculation at best in relation to that.”
Pandilovski was arrested after driving his car head-on into a random motorist, which detectives suspected at the time was an intentional act to commit suicide.
Pandilovski immediately pleaded not guilty to the murder of his ex-wife.
Zoran Pandilovski has been charged with the murder of his estranged wife. In the photo: Elaine and Zoran Pandilovski
Elaine Pandilovski and Zoran Pandilovski (pictured) were high school sweethearts. They had a son together
Detectives (pictured in 2020) are seen exiting the Mill Park property after discovering the body of Pandilovski’s estranged wife Elaine Pandilovski
The body of Elaine Pandilovski (pictured) was discovered after police conducted a welfare check at the Mill Park home
A forensic psychiatrist had declared Pandilovski fit to stand trial in February last year.
At a hearing last year, the court heard that Pandilovski had been assessed by Dr. Jacqueline Rakov, who reported that she believed there was not enough medical evidence to support a mental disorder defense.
Pandilovski then tried to get a different opinion from Dr. Patrick Newton, who agreed with Dr. Rakov’s diagnosis.
He eventually pleaded guilty to the murder of Elaine in April this year, one day into his Supreme Court murder trial.
Elaine had been a teacher at a special school and also cared for her 10-year-old son with autism.
She had been living alone with the couple’s son when her life was cruelly taken away.
Family became concerned for her well-being after she failed to show up for work at Plenty Parkland Primary School in Mill Park.
Elaine had been sweethearts with her killer in high school and previously lived together for 15 years.
After their divorce, Pandilovski moved to the nearby suburb of Epping, where he remained hopeful that his estranged wife would take him back.
Elaine Pandilovski seems deep in thought as her young son enjoys an arcade game. She was said to be dead less than two years after the photo was taken
Ms Pandilovski’s aunt shared a heartbreaking message about the loss of a ‘beautiful, caring and compassionate’ woman
After the alleged murder, a police car is seen outside a residence in Mill Park
But the court heard he had been living with false hopes as his long-suffering ex told friends she had no intention of taking the brute back.
Neighbors said Elaine was a devoted mother and lived with the couple’s son in the ground floor home.
Her brutal death shocked Melbourne and saw an outpouring of grief from friends and family.
One by one, Elaine’s friends and family came to Pandilovski to tell him what beautiful soul he had destroyed and the devastation his actions had caused.
Among them was Elaine’s teenage niece, who burst into tears before bravely reading her heartbreaking victim impact statement.
Mr Hallowes gave little insight into why his client felt the need to kill his ex-wife, who had continued to facilitate access to their son during their divorce.
The court heard that Pandilovski simply “lost control” when he visited his ex-wife’s house to retrieve their son’s damaged iPad, with prosecutors accepting that he had not planned the murder.
Mr Hallowes said Pandilovski took no steps to cover up his crime, despite moving her body to the cellar, which he said was only done to prevent their son from finding his dead mother.
Justice Christopher Beale will sentence Pandilovski on August 11.