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Aussie mum’s agony – he left me for dead on our first date so why was he freed to kill?

All Karen wanted was some company...

All Karen wanted was some company, but her evening took a violent twist. 

Here, Karen, 50, shares the story in her own words.

I sighed, feeling a pang of loneliness.

My two sons, Neale, 11, and Nathan, 10, were away at camp and I’d recently split with their dad.

I was craving human company. It was September 2006, so mobile dating apps didn’t exist yet.

Instead, I thought about the advert I’d seen on TV for the chatline Hot Gozzip.

It sounded like a great way to meet someone. Dialling the number, I was put through to someone called Scott, who lived nearby.

‘How’s it going?’ he asked.

We spent two hours chatting and having a laugh, then he asked if he should come over.

‘I’ll pick you up,’ I offered.

Brimming with excitement, I spritzed on perfume and touched up my lippy.

Back at mine, we had a vodka and passionfruit UDL.

After about an hour, Scott put his arm around me.

‘Let’s have sex,’ he said.

‘No,’ I replied, shocked at his bluntness.

‘Can you drive me home then?’ he asked.

‘No way, I’ve had a drink,’ I told him, suggesting he ring a taxi instead.

Suddenly, the atmosphere in the room darkened and Scott’s friendly persona changed.

I could just tell he was going to attack me, so I reached for my phone, but Scott hit it out of my hand.

Then he started to choke me, before throwing me to the ground.

Dolphin stock
(Credit: Getty)

In a daze, I tried to get up.

But Scott had my favourite crystal dolphin paperweight in his hands and he smashed it on my temple.

I cried out as I thudded to the floor, my head pounding.

Drifting in and out of consciousness, I saw Scott coming at me with a knife.

My mind instantly went to my two boys.

I’m going to die, what will they do without their mum? I panicked.

Scott’s eyes looked pure evil as he rammed the knife into my throat twice, into the side of my head and slashed it across my cheek. Then, everything went black.

Waking later, I groaned out loud. Blood was splattered everywhere and everything ached.

Scott had disappeared and I couldn’t see my mobile.

The left side of my body wasn’t working, so, using my right leg, I dragged myself to the landline in my room where I dialled Triple-0. I also called my mum, Lyn.

‘I’ve been attacked,’ I wept to her.

Rushed to hospital, they assessed my injuries.

‘You were stabbed just a few millimetres from your main artery,’ the doctor said afterwards. ‘Any closer and you’d be dead.’

My whole face had ballooned too, and I’d lost multiple teeth.

A botched op when I was a little girl had already left me brain-damaged, but the attack had made it worse – I couldn’t move the entire left side of my body.

Thankfully, the police tracked Scott down and he was arrested.

Karen Cheeseman
Me before the attack (Credit: Supplied)

But when Neale and Nathan came to visit me, they cried because I looked so different.

‘It’s still me, the bruising and cuts will go,’ I promised.

The doctor had more devastating news though.

‘You’ll never walk again,’ he said.

Yes I will, I thought determinedly.

After three long months of physio, I managed to get back on my feet, with the aid of a walking stick and leg brace.

In time, Scott Murdoch,  32, pleaded guilty to intentionally causing serious injury and theft.

On November 25, 2009, he appeared in the Supreme Court of Victoria where he was jailed for seven years and two months, with a minimum of five years.

It was some comfort, but  the injuries were life-changing. My neck and cheek were crisscrossed with scars. I could no longer drive because I had constant fluid in my eyes and had to rely on a stick to walk.

The left side of my body was permanently paralysed too, and I couldn’t even wear normal clothes as I was unable to lift up my left arm to put on a top.

Needing a carer to help with everyday things, I lost my independence. 

Even my love for dolphins disappeared – it reminded me of that awful night.

Then, seven years on in 2016, Mum told me that Scott Murdoch was back in the news. After getting out of prison, he’d murdered Kylie Blackwood, 42.

She was found bleeding to death on the couch by her 11-year-old twin daughters, after she failed to pick them up from school.

Scott Murdoch
Killer Scott Murdoch

That monster had also seriously injured Ilona Prohaska, a 73-year-old widow, by cutting her throat and breaking her spine.

Thankfully, she survived.

In August this year, Murdoch pleaded guilty to both crimes.

The court heard the brutal attacks happened after he broke into their homes.

Ilona told police he used a hammer to pound a knife into each side of her neck as she screamed for help.

He’s due to be sentenced at a later date.

What that beast has done is disgusting. Despite what he did to me, I refuse to let it control the rest of my life.

I’m lucky to be here and I’m determined to keep positive.

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