Murderer Darren John Ellis loses appeal

Darren Ellis in a file photo taken in 2002 when he worked in a local gun shop.

A FATHER-of-two convicted of killing his pregnant teenage lover and dumping her body in a lake has lost a bid to appeal his conviction.

Darren John Ellis in 2008 was jailed for 21 years, with a minimum of 17-year term, for the murder of Naomi Bernaldo.

The 19-year-old disappeared in September 2006 and two months later her body was pulled from a lake in Creswick in central Victoria.

She had been stabbed in the chest, shot in the head and her body wrapped in chicken wire weighed down with rocks.

Ellis applied for leave to appeal his conviction in the Victorian Court of Appeal.

His legal team said the verdict was unsatisfactory, arguing that the trial judge erred in his directions and erred in admitting some evidence.

But the appeal judges disagreed and rejected the appeal bid on Thursday.

Here is some background on this gutless murderer…

Victim’s lover charged

  • Shannon McRae
  • November 07, 2006

A MAN accused of shooting and stabbing his teenage lover before dumping her body in a lake has appeared in court.

Darren John Ellis, 35, lived with 19-year-old Naomi Marree Bernaldo in a rented weatherboard house in Creswick, western Victoria, for about three months.

Mr Ellis was remanded in custody yesterday to face court in February after a brief appearance in Ballarat Magistrates’ Court.

Head bowed and dressed in a faded black T-shirt and black pants, a dishevelled Mr Ellis was supported in court by his father and a friend.

Mr Ellis was charged early yesterday with the murder of his de facto partner. Ms Bernaldo’s body was officially identified the previous day.

Police recovered her mutilated and decomposed body at St George’s Lake early on Friday after local teacher Tanya Beacham made the gruesome discovery while paddling a canoe.

Ms Bernaldo’s body had been wrapped in chicken wire and weighed down with 30kg of rocks and industrial weights.

The weatherboard house on Clunes Rd where the couple lived was deserted yesterday.

Two cars were parked in the driveway. An aluminium ski boat sat on a trailer in the yard.

Weeds dominated the garden, and a tortoiseshell kitten sniffed at an empty food bowl.

Neighbour Kylie Robertson said she rarely saw Ms Bernaldo.

“It’s pretty scary and has really shaken the town up,” she said.

“It’s really horrible to think something like this can happen around here.”

Another neighbour said the couple were quiet and kept to themselves.

A woman who works opposite the couple’s home told the Herald Sun she saw Ms Bernaldo most afternoons up until about a month ago.

“I initially thought they were father and daughter,” she said.

Detectives believe Ms Bernaldo’s body had been submerged in St George’s lake for up to a month when it was found last week.

Ellis Guilty of Creswick murder

25 Jun, 2008 06:27 PM
THE family of a pregnant teenager murdered in Creswick told her killer to rot in jail after he was found guilty of her gruesome death yesterday.Friends and relatives of Naomi Bernaldo, 19, clapped, sobbed, and embraced after a Supreme Court jury found Darren John Ellis had shot and stabbed his defacto before dumping her naked body in a Creswick lake. 

The crowded court erupted with emotion as supporters of Ellis, including his parents, cried tears of despair while the 37-year-old shook his head.

The jury took just over a day to find Ellis, of Creswick, had murdered Ms Bernaldo in 2006, shortly after she discovered she was carrying his child.

Outside the crowded court, Ms Bernaldo’s mother, Anne-Marie Burke, wept and said: “I’ll never have her back though”.

Mrs Burke had told the court her daughter was considering an abortion because she did not believe Ellis, a father-of-two, wanted more children.

Ms Bernaldo’s uncle Peter Rhodes said outside court, the family were “over the moon” with the verdict.

“She was a beautiful girl, she had a loving family, what she went through no-one deserves to go through that,” he said.

“As far as I’m concerned Darren Ellis can rot in jail, the whole family thinks that.”

Ms Bernaldo went missing in September 2006. Canoeists found her body floating in St George’s Lake, near Creswick outside Ballarat, on November 1, 2006.

She had been shot in the head at close range, stabbed in the chest and her body encased in chicken wire and weighted with rocks.

Mr Rhodes described the trial, which was moved to Melbourne after three juries were dismissed in Ballarat, as “hell” for Ms Bernaldo’s family.

He said the family planned to go St George’s Lake, where a cross had been erected for Ms Bernaldo, to say a prayer together.

“She’s the one who won it,” he said of the case.

The jury had heard Ellis told his estranged wife that Ms Bernaldo had left him in the middle of the night to seek help for her drug use.

Police had found chicken wire and black plastic cable ties, the same as those used to secure the wire around Ms Bernaldo’s body, in Ellis’ backyard.

Peter Chadwick, for Ellis, had told the jury his client had loved Ms Bernaldo and while he had a collection of guns and knives none had proven to be the murder weapons.

Ms Bernaldo’s friend Bianca Fraser gave evidence Ellis had been violent towards his teen lover.

Mr Rhodes said outside court, the couple’s relationship had appeared happy at the beginning.

“We did not know what Darren Ellis was like,” he said.

Justice Paul Coghlan will sentence Ellis on a date to be fixed.

16 thoughts on “Murderer Darren John Ellis loses appeal

  1. The comments on this were started on the page with the photo attachment, good debate, so I thought I would copy them over here…

    Michelle says:
    November 20, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    This man is innocent,and i am disgusted with the justice system that they do not care who did this terrible thing to this young girl,they have put a innocent man in jail just so they look like there doing there job.To the person who did this crime i hope you are reading this and i’m telling you to go and look in the mirror and ask yourself are you proud!! Are you proud that you have destroyed a young girls life and the life of her family and then ask yourself are you pleased with yourself that an innocent man is in jail for your crime and his children are not even able to take there dad to there school concerts,are you proud of this!!!For god sake you are scum,you have no idea apart from the terrible crime you have done how many lifes you have effected,one day you will be found out and i will be in the court room,i don’t no who you are yet but i no your not human.

    Robbo says:
    November 20, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Michelle, He has been tried by the system and a jury of his peers and been found guilty. he appealed and again lost that appeal and is therefore guilty. He will sit and rot in jail, and you are dreaming if you think otherwise. The community have put this man away and are not thinking about some “Other” lunatic out there, who has got away with it. The evidence convicted him. Tell me why it was not him?

    Where is a speck of evidence suggesting it is someone else. What about the mountains of forensic scientific proof that says is he.Is it all wrong? Are you a sympathetic family member?

    Because I cannot see how you came to this conclusion and we have all been hoodwinked…

    Michelle says:
    November 20, 2010 at 8:43 pm (Edit)

    robbo,very interesting to hear your point of view,not so smart though as you should no the paper and news only print what they want i suggest to you maybe have a good hard look and see there was never any convicting evidence only circumstance as you should relise .The sad part is it is people like you that read papers and go oh he must of done it and this is why we still have scums on the streets…if your interested at all ?i suggest to you perhaps go read some real stories perhaps by robin bowles and relise we live in a dirty world.kind regards
    Robbo says:
    November 20, 2010 at 9:26 pm (Edit)

    Thanks for replying Michelle, you didn’t answer a few of my questions, none pointing to innocense? Only the circumstantail that convicted him. I read most papers every day, they are a source of information but I have contacts in most places for the sort of thing I do and it comes in very handy. I also read court transcripts, judgements and appeals, although time consuming it is a real eye opener. I also have a vast collection of true crime books, as well as books on crime scene investigation, techniques, procedures.

    I can say I didn’t fall out of a tree and start doing this. But I guess “People like me” as you put it, must get it wrong…

    In relation to Robin’s books, I agree a great writer and author, I have a couple of signed copies of her books. Jaiden Leskie was the same age as one of my sons. I had great interest in that case.

    Anyway good luck in your fight for justice for Mr.Ellis.


  2. Having known Darren all of his life, I, know he couldn’t have done such a thing.However It is my beliefe that he was framed, and she was murdered by a certain motorcycle gang. It is one of those crimes that go on all the time.And hangers on always do the time.I am so sorry for her family, in their loss. But,in saying that, they cannot just walk away and say that he did it, because, there was absolutely no evidence, to prove that he did.Had he have had decent legal help, and as the Ballarat Magistrate said, if she had the power, he would have walked out of her court.Because as she stated,and it’s true.There was no evidence, that could have tied him to this murder.In the appeal, the prosicutor was asked if this case went back to trial, could he, Mr Darcy, win this case, and his answer was No.


    • Funny you should say that a motorcycle gang murdered her. If you know that or think that was the case then you should also know that Darren the Gutless Coward was affilliated with that motorcycle gang, therefore if he did not commit the murder of his own hands then you can be sure one of his gutless bikie mates did it for him. And as for the no evidence, you do not get found guilty in each court hearing, including appeals if there is no evidence or reasonable doubt to being the culprit. The plain truth is he could not pursuade Naomi to have an abortion like he wished her to, therefore he Murdered her and their unborn child to get his way in the end. Thats the Plain Truth of this case.


    • Everyone assumes that So and So could not have did what they are of accused of, no way because they just weren’t that sort of person. Well reality check John no-one really knows anyone.People are capable of the most horrendous acts, history has shown that. So if it makes you sleep more comfortable in your cozy little bed to believe that, then go right ahead but Darren is a cold heartless murderer.


  3. Maybe before all you people get on here saying how he is innocent, think of Naomi’s family that reads this! The court found him guilty, how can you argue against that!


  4. Darren John Ellis is a gutless piece of horse shit, he should be strung up and brutally tortured within an inch of his life and then left to recover just to be annihilated again and again. Then maybe someone should take his children and murder them in cold blood just to rip his cold, black heart from his chest. But it still wouldn’t be retribution enough for the pain he has caused poor Naomi and her family. And a message to Michelle, sorry but your brother is not innocent and has you and all other supporters bluffed. Maybe if you read all the court transcripts rather than look the other way then maybe you would see your cowardly brother for the Gutless animal he is. Darren John Ellis, you will Never be forgotten for the inhumane crime you have committed and we’ll be waiting to bump into you in 10-11 years time to give you the Welcome Home you truly deserve – You Low Life Baby and Woman Killer.
    See You Soon Enough Fucker


    • You say he is inhumane yet listen to your own words. I understand you’re hurt, but to bring his defenseless children into this is wrong. I understand you’re hurt but rather than bring them up just leave the comments for Darren. I know this is an open site for anyone to comment their say, so this is just mine. I’m not defending him saying he is innocent either. I can’t imagine how much pain Naomi’s death caused and still to this day does. But that day another family lost a member, not of death but of trust, time, and finding out a whole other side. The family got named and shamed for something they had nothing to do with.
      The accused family’s life changed that day as well.

      Apologies if this came across abusive, but I just read all of this and am just stating my opinion on an open board.


      • Who give two shakes about that other family? Obviously you and i take it you are a family member but you grief is meaningless compared to that of those who live with images of a Stabbed and Shot image of Naomi. For some people its easy to move on and not give anything a second thought but the rest of us hurt and grieve while Darren gets see and to eat lunches etc with his family. If a life is taken then the judiciary system should repay that by taking a life and that should be life in prison without connection with family, friends etc. Its just not good enough, so i say again, Who cares about the other family? Not me, Not one single little bit.


  5. our family is still going thru hell. his family can still see him. we cant see Naomi. he will still have a life when and if he gets out. Naomi will not. I hope he rots.


    • Yeah but it wont be much of a life worth living. There are people in this community that wont stand for scum like him living peacefully back in this town. Every Dog has its day and Darren Ellis is coming.


  6. Following future debate regarding this.

    I think people should remember that what’s written on the internet will stay there forever.

    Threats towards Darren when he is released have been recorded here. Threats towards his children have been recorded. (Might add they are actually victims in this too, they didn’t choose their father or commit the crime and are not associated with the gang)

    Naomi is gone from the world. Somebody definitely murdered her. Whether or not it was Darren, she is gone. To her family and friends making threats on here, do you think hurting Darren deeply will make you feel better? It wont. Nothing will. You need to let go of the hate towards Darren and his family and think of Naomi not as what she became, but what she was before. Keep your thoughts positive or you will serve every day of Darren’s sentence with him.

    Liked by 1 person

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