Peace for Lester's other victims

FINALLY, a good night's sleep beckoned for Ligita Sternbergs last night.

The Hervery Bay mother of Ingrid Lester, murdered almost seven years ago, found some peace yesterday afternoon when a phone call from Detective Sergeant Bruce Hodgins brought her the news she had been waiting for.

After less that two days deliberating, a Brisbane jury had found Jim Lester guilty of the murder of her daughter.

Ingrid's body had 43 stab wounds when it was found in her home in November 2002. She was 35.

Lester was sentenced to life in prison in November 2007, but successfully appealed for a retrial 12 months later.

The 46-year-old was yesterday found guilty of procuring his estranged wife's death by offering hitman Michael Kinsella $10,000.

Kinsella and Lester are now both serving mandatory life prison sentences for the crime.

It took the Queensland Supreme Court jury less than two days to reach the guilty verdict, to which Lester reacted by shaking his head in disbelief, taking his tie and drawing a deep breath.

"They didn't take as long as the last time. It definitely confirms they were right the last time," Ms Sternbergs said from her Pialba home where she was joined by Margaret Marlow, the co-author of To the Bitter End, the story of her daughter's life.

"When I heard the news I birst into tears, which I didn't do the first time.

"It seems to have been worse this time.

"I've been shaky and not getting any sleep."

Unlike the first time around when she attended the full trial, Ms Sternbergs only travelled to Brisbane this time when called to give evidence.

"It has been for my daughter. I'm hoping she can rest in peace now. Nobody knew what she went through.

"I feel much better. Now that he is locked up and behind bars, I can get a little peace."

She revealed she had feared what might happen if Lester had been cleared.

During the two-week trial, the Brisbane court was told Ms Lester was viciously stabbed and left on the floor in a pool of blood.

Crown lawyers claimed Lester sought her death after becoming jealous of her relationship with family friend Alisdair Morrison.

The court heard that because Lester was on bail for the attempted murder of Mr Morrison at the time of Ms Lester's murder, his life prison sentence began yesterday and will not take into account any pre-sentence custody already served.

He will have to spend 15 years in jail for Ms Lester's murder before becoming eligible for parole.

Justice James Douglas said this meant Lester would effectively serve a total of 20 years' imprisonment for is crimes.


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