Jessica Camilleri would call strangers and threaten to cut off their head before decapitating her mother Rita
Jessica loved numbers.
WARNING: This story contains graphic content that some readers may find upsetting.
Her favourites were two, three and five.
She liked repeating them to form a random phone number.
Then she would call and tell a stranger she was going to cut off their head.
One night in July last year, Jessica Camilleri lived out the threat of decapitation — on her mother, Rita.
Then 25, she stood bloodstained from head to toe on her Western Sydney street and confessed under torchlight.
"I killed my mum," she told a police officer, motioning to her left.
"My mum's head is over there."
The conversation was captured by a body-worn camera and played in a NSW Supreme Court trial last week.
Camilleri had repeatedly stabbed the 57-year-old in the kitchen of her St Clair home then carried her head outside, intending to show neighbours.
But she pleaded not guilty to murder and argued her complex, overlapping psychiatric disorders robbed her of self-control.
The impairment's severity justified reducing the charge to manslaughter, Camilleri's barrister submitted.Yesterday, the jury agreed and found her guilty of manslaughter.'I was thinking sick thoughts'
At just five days, the trial was short.
But the evidence was dark and confronting; from a pathologist's clinical mapping of Rita Camilleri's "innumerable" wounds, to her daughter's chilling, dispassionate description of the killing to a psychiatrist.
Then there was the crime scene. Blood. Hair. Knives, some broken.
On the kitchen floor lay the aftermath of Camilleri's macabre post-mortem acts, which went beyond removing her mother's head and are usually found in the script of a horror movie.
And that, she would tell psychiatrist David Greenberg nearly a year later, was where she got the ideas.
"I was thinking sick thoughts," she said, likening herself to a butcher.
She urged Dr Greenberg to "write this down for the judge" as she cited The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which she watched obsessively.
Yet to police, Camilleri initially claimed self-defence, blaming her mother for threatening a return to a mental health facility and attacking first.
The suggestions drew exasperated sighs from relatives in the court's public gallery.Daughter 'constantly' demanded attention
From other witnesses, another picture of Rita Camilleri emerged — a "tired" and "exhausted" carer.
Her older daughter Kristy Torrisi, who'd distanced herself from Jessica, believed a group home could provide help.
Camilleri "constantly" demanded attention and barked orders to her mother from the couch, according to Ms Torrisi.
The family had been close and supported Jessica. Her father was stricter than her mother. They separated in 2015.
Rita Camilleri grew "frustrated" with psychiatrists and diagnostic uncertainty.
They'd tried mood stabilisers, antipsychotics and antidepressants with limited success.
Six months before the attack, Camilleri ceased medication to seek natural alternatives.
"Rita felt like all systems had let her down," neighbour Ruth Heard recalled.
Privately, Ms Heard questioned how her friend managed to "so calmly" deal with the strain.
"Rita would just say: 'She has problems and she's my daughter'."
When Jessica's prank calls to a Victorian family dragged on for a year, Rita Camilleri phoned one victim, conceding she was "at wits' end" and didn't know how to control her.'A very complex mental picture'
Jessica Camilleri contradicted her initial story during Dr Greenberg's examination, admitting she was the aggressor.Family and domestic violence support services:
"I was in a fit of rage," she explained.The psychiatrist issued three diagnoses: intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder and intermittent explosive disorder.
The latter triggered "rage attacks", he said.
"She's a very complex mental picture."
Camilleri was described as child-like, naive, narcissistic and egocentric.
"Her sole support, her only real companion, was her mother," Dr Greenberg said.
Bullied relentlessly at school, Camilleri fell years behind and learned to exact revenge through targeted aggression, predominantly on females.
She fixated on things, like calling strangers 100 times daily and watching horror films on repeat.
Of her movie choices, another psychiatrist, Richard Furst, told jurors: "I don't think she feels afraid. I think she gets enjoyment from them".
Camilleri not only had a "warped perception" of the films but obtained a "template" for when the anger overwhelmed her, he said.
The experts' diagnoses differed, but both considered the partial defence of substantial impairment appropriate.'She wouldn't hurt a fly'
The court heard two weeks before the attack, family friend Jade Arena commented to Rita Camilleri that her daughter was "going to murder someone".
"Not my Jessica," came the response.
"She wouldn't hurt a fly."
One day before, she took her daughter to a police station about new prank calls.
Dr Greenberg said Camilleri could be provoked by a stranger looking at her oddly, and the court heard that on the day of the attack she felt her mother "embarrassed" her at a doctor's surgery.
The stressors built up, defence barrister Nathan Steel argued.
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In the dock, Camilleri occasionally smiled at guards and sat quietly next to a support worker, her brown hair neatly tied back.
The persona was difficult to reconcile with the bloodied woman from the crime scene video, with dyed-blonde, stringy hair and rapid speech.
Back then, in her conversations with police, scattered questions reflected concern for her own future.
"My family are probably not going to want me," Camilleri concluded.
She worried about the place she was likely to spend years and pleaded for an alternative.
"I can only imagine what jail is going to be like," Camilleri told detectives.
"I'd just like to go to a group home where someone can take good care of me."