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Man admits woman’s Lightning Ridge murder

A tourist attraction operator will face a sentence hearing in February for murdering a woman in outback NSW.

October 7, 2022
By Margaret Scheikowski
7 October 2022

A tourist attraction operator has admitted murdering a woman whose body was found in bushland in the NSW opal mining town of Lightning Ridge.

Vittorio Stefanato appeared via videolink in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday when he adhered to his previously entered guilty plea.

He pleaded guilty to murdering 39-year-old Christine Neilan on January 8, 2020 at Lightning Ridge.

Her body was found the next day in bushland and a post-mortem  examination revealed she died from serious head injuries.

Stefanato was aged 73 when he was charged a year ago.

Ms Neilan was last seen walking without her beloved dog Sooky a day before her body was found.

Police at the time said the sighting was unusual, as she was typically seen walking her white dog around the outback town.

Ms Neilan had lived at Lightning Ridge with her mother since late 2019.

Justice Helen Wilson convicted Stefanato of murder and listed his sentence hearing for February 10 at Dubbo.

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