On a night around the time he killed his girlfriend Cheryl Ardler, Dennis French was seen burning items of clothing in a bin on a western Sydney nature reserve.
Over the flames and smoke, he shouted: “Come and get your shit, slut”.
Early on December 12, 2012, the couple had been seen arguing on the same reserve near their home in Cranebrook. French pushed Ms Ardler to the ground. She attempted to flee, but he caught her and punched her several times. He also stabbed her in the face with a fork. An ambulance was called, but she wouldn’t go to hospital or speak to police. The 41-year-old was never seen again.
French, who told a houseguest Ms Ardler “took off” and updated his Facebook profile picture three days later to “single and ready to mingle” and “free as a f—ing bird”, was finally jailed on Friday for killing Ms Ardler and disposing of her body.
French, described by a neighbour as “jealous and controlling”, was long suspected of killing Ms Ardler; but it wasn’t until a teenager stumbled across her skeletal remains near a creek bed in 2018 that authorities could confirm she met with foul play.
While it is not known exactly how she was killed, a post-mortem examination found Ms Ardler had sustained a fractured jawbone at the time of her death, confirming she died as the result of an assault.
In April 2019, French was charged with her murder. He later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
On Friday, NSW Supreme Court Justice Hament Dhanji, SC, revealed that in the time between Ms Ardler’s murder and French’s arrest, he subjected another female partner to rape and intimidation.
French pleaded guilty just two days ago to raping the other woman and holding her against her will, threatening to assault her with a hammer, in July and August of 2016.