Legal Groundup

Legal Studies from the ground up

Application Excercise 2j

1. For the accused, Michael Cardamone, to be found guilty of murder, the following elements needed to be established by the prosecution:

  • the killing was unlawful – Cardamone did not have had a lawful reason for killing Karen Chetcuti,
  • malice aforethought existed – Cardamone formed the intention to commit murder or to cause serious harm
  • Cardamone was responsible for Chetcuti’s death – Cardamone’s actions caused Chetcuti’sdeath (causation)
  • the victim was a human being – Chetcuti was a person who was alive at the time of the murder
  • Cardamone was of sound mind at the time the murder was committed
  • Cardamone was over the age of discretion – in Victoria, only people over the age of 10 can be charged with having committed a criminal offence.

2. Malice aforethought is the intention to commit murder or to cause serious harm. For malice aforethought to have existed in this case, it needed to be shown that Cardamone intended to kill the victim, intended to inflict serious harm (but may not have meant to kill the victim), or acted with reckless indifference (that is, knowing that death or grievous bodily harm was probable as a result of their actions, but not caring about the consequences). Cardamone demonstrated malice aforethought when he acted with reckless indifference towards the victim in abusing her before killing her. He intended to kill the victim, or intended to inflict serious harm, because, as he said, he had “been watching her for some time “.

3. Responses will vary. For example, Cardamone might have argued that he did not cause the victim’s death. Alternatively, he might have used mental impairment as a defence. He could have argued that at the time of the offence, he was suffering from a mental impairment and did not know the nature and quality of his actions, or did not know that the conduct was wrong.

4. Responses will vary. For example, students might point out that the judge noted that Cardamone’s conduct was “extraordinarily vicious, callous and thoroughly unprovoked” and that the crime was “horrifying, depraved and disgusting”. Cardamone actually pleaded guilty to the charge of murder, and based on the comments of the judge, this should have been the case – Cardamone should have been found guilty. Students might also point out the number of times that Cardamone’s account of events changed.

5. Responses will vary. Students might point out, for example, that besides the loss of Ms Chetcuti and her future dreams and aspirations, the family and friends of Ms Chetcuti will need to deal with grief, pain, anger, distress or emotional trauma. Friends and family may also need to deal with an ensuing investigation and court case, which can be stressful.

6. Responses will vary. Students might point out, for example, thatthe costs associated with assistance to victims,as well as the identification, investigation and prosecution of crime will have an economic impact. The crime of murder can lead to the perception that there is an increase in violent crime across the community, resulting in a feeling across society that individuals and households are not safe. People can become anxious or fearful, particularly if they believe that they could become a victim.