Muesli entrepreneur Peter Pavlis has told a Melbourne court he still does not know how he stabbed his business partner to death in her home last year.
The founder of The Muesli Company, Peter Pavlis, addressed the Supreme Court from the dock, speaking softly as he apologised for killing Jennifer Borchardt, with whom he had run the business for 18 years.
Ms Borchardt’s body was discovered by her fiance at their home in Richmond in July last year. She had been stabbed six times.
Pavlis, 76, who has been diagnosed with dementia, has pleaded guilty to one count of murder.
“I’m sorry to the whole family and friends,” Pavlis said from the dock.
“What I did I had no right to do.
“I still can’t understand how I did it.
“I’m sorry — she was a nice person.”
Jennifer Borchardt worked with Peter Pavlis at The Muesli Company for three decades. (Supplied)
Prosecutors argued Pavlis had killed her because he was jealous and angry about her new relationship after her fiance moved into her home.
Ms Borchardt’s co-workers and friends fought back tears in court as they tried to come to terms with how their boss had killed their friend and then come to work “like nothing had happened”.
A former worker at The Muesli Company, Cathy Conidoria, told the court she asked Pavlis where Ms Borchardt was when she didn’t turn up to work that day.
“How could Peter have left her dying when he came to work and acted like nothing had happened?” Ms Conidoria read from her victim impact statement.
She described how Pavlis had invited workers and friends back to his house that evening to mourn after they found out she was dead.
Ms Conidoria told the court she couldn’t imagine “the pain in her eyes” when her friend realised she was being killed by a man who was like a father figure.
‘Afraid, alone and dying’
Ms Borchardt had worked at The Muesli Company since she was a teenager.
Pavlis and Ms Borchardt worked together for 30 years, and she had re-mortgaged her home to buy into the business 18 years ago.
The court heard the pair were close and she was a beloved and trusted member of the Pavlis family.
“Peter, you always had control over her. I think she was starting to realise that and pull away,” Ms Borchardt’s friend Rosa Cornetio said in court.
“You left her afraid, alone and dying.”
Pavlis’s lawyer Peter Morrissey SC denied his client had killed the 49-year-old out of jealousy, but said he could only speculate as to what happened in the house.
He told the court at the time of the murder Pavlis was concerned about money, even though there was no evidence the business was in financial trouble.
“He flared up and had a crazy overreaction,” Mr Morrissey told the court.
The court heard Pavlis was a hardworking, likeable man, who was devoted to his family and had a high level of respect for Ms Borchardt.
Justice Lesley Taylor described his crime as an “enormous breach of trust”.
Outside court, Ms Borchardt’s niece Carlie Smith said Pavlis’s apology was hard to take.
She said her aunt was a gentle person who wouldn’t hurt a flea.
“We miss her greatly,” she said.
Pavlis will be sentenced at a later date.