An elderly man who ran an outback castle has admitted to murdering a mother of four in an opal mining town in New South Wales.
Vittorio Stefanato appeared before the NSW Supreme Court on Friday via videolink to repeat his guilty plea for the murder of 39-year-old Christine Neilan at Lightning Ridge on 8 January 2020. .
Her body was found the next day in bushland near the tourist area and an autopsy revealed she had died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Vittorio Stefanato (pictured), who ran the Outback Tourist Castle, has admitted to killing Kristin Neelan, a mother of four.
Christine Neilan (pictured), 39, found dead in Lightning Ridge bushland
Neelan’s body was found in a bush near a tourist area, and an autopsy revealed he died of a gunshot wound to the head.
Neelan was last seen walking with her dog, Sookie, a day before her body was found.
She moved to Lightning Ridge with her mother in late 2019, just months before she died.
Judge Helen Wilson convicted Stefanato of murder at a sentencing hearing in Dubbo on February 10.
Neelan moved to Lightning Ridge in late 2019, just months before he was found dead in bushland near Amigo Castle.
Stefanato is the owner of Lightning Ridge’s tourist attraction, Amigo’s Castle (pictured), which he handcrafted in the 1980s.
Known locally as “Amigo,” Stefanato moved from Italy to the opal mining town in 1973.
A former miner began hand-building his castle (now heritage listed) using local rocks in 1981 and completed the project 20 years later.
Originally built as a private residence, the site is now a popular tourist attraction and is featured in Better Homes and Gardens.
With a 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor, ‘Amigo’s Castle’ has been awarded the company’s 2021 Travelers’ Choice.
Photos posted online show signs erected around the red-brick fort, urging trespassers to stay away. [sic] A beam that operates at night, 380 volts.
A photo posted on Trip Advisor by a tourist shows signs around the castle warning people to beware of ‘laser beams’