11-year-old's killer 'couldn’t pause the button'

Zoe Buttigieg was sleeping in her bed when she was murdered.
Zoe Buttigieg was sleeping in her bed when she was murdered.

THE man who admitted to sexually assaulting and strangling a little girl to death in her bed while her mother was in another room told police he "couldn't pause the button".

"Monsters do that," he told police of 11-year-old Zoe Buttigieg's murder, his hands covering his face throughout the two-hour formal interview.

Convicted killer Bowe Maddigan's sensational "childlike" police interviews, in which he initially avoids questions until he describes an "emotional outburst", aired tonight on Nine News, along with the first public remarks from Zoe's mother Janelle Saunders.

Mr Maddigan initially denied killing the little girl but later told police: "It was like a bad movie ... I couldn't stop the button, I couldn't pause the button, I couldn't rewind the button. I had to sit through a horror movie," he said.

Zoe Buttigieg.
Zoe Buttigieg.

It was the first time Ms Saunders has spoken publicly of the murder of her only child, who found her daughter's body the morning after she had friends visit her home in the country town of Wangaratta, north east of Melbourne, on October 24, 2015.

"She was a child, an innocent child," Ms Saunders told Nine News. "I just thought, this can't be happening.

"It's time the truth was put out there."

Ms Saunders said she "checked all the rooms, every room but hers, and that decision haunts me every day because if I'd opened that door, she'd still be here"


The 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted and strangled to death.
The 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted and strangled to death.


"It's something that never goes away … this is something that will be there forever.

"There's such a big hole missing from my life, because she's all I had."

Maddigan was one of the four visitors to the house the previous evening as a friend of Ms Saunders' then-partner.

"I watched everything," he cries. "I watched it all. Did I hurt the little girl?

"It makes me feel sick."

Nine News listed Maddigan's long criminal history, including multiple convictions and 7 court appearances between 2005-2014. The appearances are related to driving and alcohol-related offences and two are for breaching court orders.

In 2002, he faced children's court for several violent crimes and was sentenced to a youth attendance order and youth supervision order. In 2005, he received a fine for an assault. In 2008, a 12-month community-based order for another assault. A year later, in 2009, he was fined for another attack.

He was sentenced to three-and-a-half years after a brutal robbery in Dandenong, Melbourne, after he bashed a victim unconscious. He was released on parole, which he also breached.

Less than three weeks later, he found himself in Zoe's bedroom.

Convicted killer Bowe Maddigan.
Convicted killer Bowe Maddigan.

A court heard that Maddigan, 31, was invited to celebrate a Saturday evening at the home when he snuck into Zoe's bedroom, sexually assaulted and then ended the girl's life just three weeks after he was released from a stint behind bars.

Friends had told Ms Saunders about Maddigan's criminal record for violent offences, but she decided to "give him the benefit of the doubt" and allowed him into her house.

In court, details revealed Maddigan went from bedroom to bedroom, and when he found Zoe, he gestured for her to come down from her bunk bed. The girl did and Maddigan then sexually assaulted her before strangling the child and putting her back in her bed.

"I'm eternally sorry for what I've done and put you through," Maddigan told Janelle via the police.

Around 6.30am, police found him walking barefoot and dazed along the Hume Freeway nine kilometres from Zoe's house.

He told police she "looked like an angel". His gold ring was later discovered in Zoe's mouth.

The 31-year-old pleaded guilty to the murder of the schoolgirl and committing an indecent act with a child under 16 in October last year.

He was sentenced to life in prison with a 28-year non-parole period.


"Zoe's mum has suffered in silence," Nine News reporter Alexis Daish told Today this morning. "There was a whole lot of misportrayals over what happened that night and a lot of exaggerations.

"Janelle really copped a lot of judgment for what happened to her but as if losing your daughter in that way isn't hard enough, she copped all of this.

"This is about clarifying some of the mistruths. There are a lot of exaggerations.

"People really thought of her as a neglectful mother, I tell you now, that could not be further from the truth."

Topics:  editors picks killer murder nine news zoe buttigieg

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