Showing not a flicker of emotion, ex-cop Campbell, 52, was jailed today for a maximum of 33 years for the calculated and greed-fuelled murder of his wife five years ago.
Campbell, whose trial exposed his dishonest and misogynist ways, sat stony-faced as Justice Megan Latham recounted the crime.
He was found guilty by a jury earlier this year of pushing his third wife, Janet, from a 50-metre cliff south of Sydney in 2005 as the pair took a bushwalk through the national park.
The jury rejected his claim she accidentally fell after leaving their tent to go to the toilet.
Her brother Kevin Neander, speaking outside the NSW Supreme Court today, said his sister would not hurt a fly.
“I just hope that, that day up there, on that hill, that she didn’t suffer as long as this bloke is going to suffer for the next 24 years of his mongrel life,” he said.
“I hope Des is watching this.
“I just reckon you are as low as a snake’s guts.
“I hope you suffer and look over the top of your shoulder for the next 24 years mate.”
He said the family had warned his sister about Campbell being a conman.
“We just could not talk her around,” he said. “She was bitten by love and that’s it.”
Justice Latham described Janet as “an outgoing, generous, warm-hearted and somewhat naive middle-aged country woman”.
She described Campbell’s culpability for the crime as “extreme” with “deception, duplicity and manipulation” at its heart.
“The circumstances under which Janet Campbell met her death demonstrates the offender’s sustained callousness toward her for nothing more than monetary gain,” she told the packed court.
“Janet’s death must have been truly awful. The position of her shoe print and the broken tree branch … suggests that she was conscious and aware of her fate for some short period of time before she fell.”
She sentenced him to a minimum of 24 years’ jail, with an extra nine years to be served on parole.
The pair had met in the NSW Riverina town of Deniliquin, where Janet worked in the local hospital.
The “cuddly” country girl told friends she had found love again unexpectedly, although her family knew the rumours he was a gold-digger and had “ripped-off” a past girlfriend, leaving her heartbroken and penniless.
The pair married quietly on the Murray River, with no friends or family present.
Campbell maintained his wife had become disorientated when she left their tent to go to the toilet, and fell off the cliff accidentally.
But the jury also heard the 49-year-old had been left a $500,000 farming estate by her late husband and that she was worth more to the philandering Campbell dead than alive.
The trial heard that during their relationship, Campbell had affairs with three different women and had conned money out of previous lovers.
Campbell’s first marriage ended in November 1991, and he wed his second wife Gwen Collins four months later in a Las Vegas wedding chapel.
He did not attend her funeral, and he met his fourth wife Melissa in the Philippines a month later.
What the jury did not hear, however, was that Campbell had been run out of two police forces, first the Victorian drug squad which he left “under a cloud”, later admitting to bashing confessions out of suspects and planting false evidence.
“I was just scum … I was as bad as the criminals I was arresting,” he said in a newspaper interview in 2000.
In 1995 he moved to the UK, the country of his birth, where a woman accused him of indecent assault.
No charges were laid, but faced with a prospect of a police internal disciplinary inquiry, Campbell resigned in 1998.
He will be eligible for parole in 2043.
Outside the court, Campbell’s lawyer said he would appeal his conviction and sentence.
- Wife killer Des Campbell gets 24 years (heraldsun.com.au)
- Man jailed for pushing wife off cliff (news.theage.com.au)
- Murderer Des Campbell to be sentenced (theage.com.au)
- Murderer Des Campbell’s sentencing today (news.theage.com.au)
- Wife-killer Des Campbell gets 24 years (theage.com.au)
- Former Policeman Pushed His Wife Off Cliff (news.sky.com)