Here, Maria Aylward, 43, tells the story in her own words.
D￼o you want some champagne?’ my sister, Korinne, 35, asked.
Celebrating her daughter Grace’s baptism, we were at the home Korinne shared with her partner, Greg, 54, and older kids, Callum, five, and Ryan, four.
It was getting late, but Korinne was keen for one last toast with me and our younger sister, Katelyn, now 38. Just six months before, we’d lost our wonderful mum, Joanne.
The bottle of bubbles was special, as Korinne had bought it with Mum. Feeling under the weather, I reluctantly shook my head. And Katelyn couldn’t stay late either. Besides, we’d be back two days later for Grace’s second birthday. ‘Thanks for a beautiful day,’ I said, hugging Korinne goodbye. ‘Love you.’
We didn’t know it then, but it would be the last time we saw our beautiful sister.
Growing up, we were a mischievous trio.
Once, we set up our trampoline outside a first floor window and leapt out when no-one was looking. As adults, the fun continued. After a day at the races, we all piled into the empty bath, fully-clothed, just for a laugh and a chat. We told each other everything, and Korinne was always a straight-talker.
At 24, she met Greg, a popular businessman. They were so happy together. And Korinne loved being a mum. Now, she and Greg were putting the finishing touches to their new family home. It was everything they’d worked for.
The next night, around 3am on Grace’s birthday, I was jolted awake. Greg’s mum was calling. Muffled sobs came down the line before she hung up. What’s going on? I thought, feeling a ball of fear. On the third call she was able to speak. ‘Greg and Korinne have been murdered,’ she sobbed.
They’d been stabbed in their own home. What? Who would want to hurt them? I thought, in complete shock. It couldn’t be true. But it was.
I called Katelyn to break the horrific news, and she was hysterical with grief. Then I drove to Korinne’s house, to see for myself. Pulling up, I saw their loving home was a crime scene. ‘Where are the kids?’ I asked a policeman.
I wanted desperately to hold them. They were safe with Greg’s three older children who were mourning, too.
Talking with police, the terrible truth began to emerge. They’d received a Triple-0 call late Sunday night from Korinne and Greg’s plasterer, Mustafa Kunduraci. He claimed he’d gone round and been stabbed in the hand during an argument. Police found him sitting outside, covered in blood.
Korinne and Greg’s bodies were at the back door – the children were in their rooms. Their tradie? I thought. It seemed so preposterous.
They’d mentioned some issues with tradies, but their plasterer had never come up. Now, he was being charged with their murders, police saying his motive was a row over money.
Seeing the children the next day, I hugged them tight. How could he leave them orphans? I thought, devastated.
‘Mummy and Daddy are in heaven,’ Callum told me calmly. My heart shattered.
More than 600 people came to farewell Korinne and Greg. Katelyn and I had to stay strong for the kids. They moved in with Katelyn, and I lived close by. Neither of us had planned for kids, but we rebuilt our lives around our nephews and niece.
Needing financial help while their parents’ estate was settled, we asked for government support. But, as family carers, we weren’t entitled to any.
It was even suggested we put them into care, and try to become their foster carers so we’d qualify for payments. No chance, I thought. Korinne was a fighter, so we’d fight for what was right.
In time, it became clear the boys had woken up that night. ‘The bad man pushed Mummy down the stairs,’ Callum said, one day. They heard Korinne scream, and said their
dad had ‘red chewing gum’ in his mouth, which we think was blood.
In August 2015, Mustafa Kunduraci, 46, originally from Turkey, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder.
Victoria Supreme Court heard he broke in as Korinne watched TV in the lounge room, and Greg was getting ready for bed. Armed with duct tape, cable ties, a spray bottle
of petrol, a fake gun and a kitchen knife, he planned to hurt them in a row over $20,000 he falsely believed he was owed. Stabbing them multiple times, he eventually struck them both through the heart. They were found together.
Kundaraci was locked up for 35 years, with 28 non-parole. I hope he dies behind bars, I thought.
Last month, we discovered two decisions made before the murder – one banning Kunduraci from Australia and one ordering his deportation – had been overturned on appeal, meaning he’d been free to destroy our lives.
The controversial news brought us fresh heartbreak and we are calling for change.
Now, we are focusing on helping the children remember the happy times, releasing balloons and notes to heaven on birthdays. Katelyn’s daughter, Matilda, two, will be told all about Aunty Rinne.
And, thanks to our efforts, authorities have changed the rules to give support to family carers. Our victory is part of Korinne’s legacy. We miss her every day, and won’t let her be forgotten.
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