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Week 31 2023 : Sat 29 Jul - Fri 04 Aug
- Wed 19 Jul 2023
Interview with Anthony Koletti - Melissa’s Husband
It’s been nearly three years since Melissa disappeared, but her inquest was only in May. Does all that has happened still feel very raw and immediate?
Yes. I definitely feel living through it is very hard every day and with the pointless court case - it was very time-consuming. And, you know, I miss her every day. With time comes clarity though. I've got to move forward with my life at some point and I’m trying to get to the stage where I can do that.
A lot of people were almost on a witch-hunt to incriminate you after Melissa went missing. As we journey through the documentary your innocence becomes clearer. What do you most want viewers to take away from this 90 minutes?
I think there's a very powerful message in there - that anyone can be the brunt of this force [backlash], for no reason or for good reason. But in this case, it's certainly no reason and it was sort of at a time when there was nothing happening in the news and it was just all covid, covid, covid, so I think the media interest in this sort of snowballed from there. For people it was entertaining. For me, it was just a really hard time.
So what do you want the main takeaway from the documentary to be?
That as time goes on, all that remains is truth and lies and speculation and guesses and estimations. I feel like the documentary sort of points to that. People can judge but at the end of the day, you really need to look someone in the eyes to understand who they are or what they're about. I couldn’t judge anyone without doing that.
Do you feel a sense of injustice over being dragged through the mud?
Oh, there's definitely injustice there. But the police very quickly corrected their opinion of me because they had the truth. I can't feel any resentment towards the police whatsoever.
What about the senior officer who said that you had “likely killed” Melissa? How do you feel about him now?
He was just the first guy that came in. He's a bit proud and egotistical and, you know, he thinks he knows everything but clearly didn't diagnose trauma. And it's one police officer in the whole bunch of ones that I dealt with. He now works in Coffs Harbour [another area of Sydney] for some strange reason. Maybe he’s been bumped!
Yes you have said before that you blame law enforcement and that raid for triggering your wife’s death. So how do you feel about that and Elizabeth Ryan, the NSW Deputy Coroner who was scathing about you during the inquest summing up?
She wasn't there and she has to throw her opinion on top of everything, after the way that she treated me. And she also had a job to do which was, you know, to make sure that the federal side of things was looked after. So she certainly did that. But the worst thing was her ignoring my suggestions I made to her, so that we can try and avoid this [a death] happening again.
After the raid you must have had so many questions for Melissa but you can’t remember your conversations…
I could tell that she was under a lot of pressure and stress. I just sort of tried to calm her down and managed to do it. And yeah, that was really it. I think anyone in that circumstance will be overwhelmed. Even for me it was a lot having to manage that and with her son, trying to manage what was going on.
Was there nothing during your marriage and prior to that raid that made you question her business conduct?
No, because she had investors that were working for her every day, so I had no reason to question it. I was the most in-the-dark person out of everyone. I’m a very straight and narrow person. I just make people feel good about themselves by fixing their hair up. I'm a pretty simple creature. So I didn't, especially at that point, understand the financial industry whatsoever.
Don’t you feel deceived by her for pulling the wool over your eyes? You could argue she conned you more than anyone else?
Not over my eyes. You know, it was different [from the conned investors]. It was love. So, you know, love is more powerful than money. And you learn that when you go through my situation. You can't replace a human being but you can certainly replace money. I’m a living example of that.
Life is very different, on so many levels, for you now. Not only has Melissa gone but you’ve lost your possessions…
You know, nothing hurts worse than the loss of a loved one, especially someone that you love 100%, so anything else that changes is no comparison, really. I think the rest of it is just sort of dealing with it, and, you know, making it work for everybody involved on my end.
That includes Melissa’s son - who she had with her ex husband - does it?
He lives with me, yes. We have definitely navigated it together, but we don't talk about it because we both live the same experience, so there's no real point in any conversation about it. Remembering the good times is the best way to cure that, so that's what we do together. It’s about all of the laughter that we had together, or the times when Melissa would do something silly and we'd both laugh together, like one time when Melissa walked out of a restaurant with a napkin still attached to her dress, and you know, she wasn't very happy about that. And her son and I copped a little bit of the brunt for that before we all just looked at each other and started laughing.
So how do you cope with all the anger of being judged?
I'm not angry. If somebody talks ill of you then I'd say it's their problem, not mine. And that's kind of the way I deal with it - to just sort of brush it off. You learn to do that after almost three years of it. Like I always say there’s no facts, no proof and evidence [that point to me] so you don't really need to justify it to anyone. But yeah, it certainly was a very rough ride.
What did you do when you were virtually penniless?
I stayed at the house until I found a rental because obviously it was very hard for me to get a rental with my name. But eventually I found one after like 20 goes. I was just very fortunate and got our lives back in order pretty quickly.
Have you met with any of the investors who Melissa conned?
I haven't met up with them because I think it's just a little bit inappropriate but I certainly have had strong and lovely relationships with many of them so I think, if we all just wait for the dust to settle, it would be nice to possibly reconnect with some of them after. At the end of the day, I just want what is best for everyone involved.
What was your last conversation with Melissa?
It wasn't really a conversation that I remember. It was just a memory of her and I sitting in a park in Rushcutters Bay [a harbourside inner-east suburb of Sydney] waiting for her son to finish a boxing lesson. And that was really it. We were just, you know, sitting by the water and chilling out and just sort of being in each other's company.
What does that loss feel like to you?
You lose a piece of your heart, that's obviously a huge piece. And yeah, you have to sort of try and mend it but there's always a hole there.
How close are you to Melissa’s parents and brother?
I go over there all the time. We have dinner and I help them with whatever they need help with.
What would you say if you could talk to her now?
That her son is doing well. I think that's all she really would want.
Have you been able to lay what was found of her to rest somewhere?
No, I have her ashes at home.
Are there any anniversaries with Melissa that you’ve marked since her death?
We were born on the same day on April 21st but I’m 41 now. So I just sort of do things that we would do together and that makes me feel happy. They’re little things that we liked to do like sitting and looking at the ocean or going for walks, I do all that kind of thing.
Tell us about your wedding..
We got married on December 31st in 2013 at Rose Bay in Sydney in a house that we were renting at the time and yes, it was very beautiful. Luckily, I’ve still got all the pictures and I look at them all the time.
Which is your favourite picture?
The picture of her and her son when he was a baby. It’s in my bedroom. I don’t know why it’s my favourite. I can’t answer that question. It just is.
Do you have many other keepsakes?
No, the receivers are holding a lot of things. They could have certainly been nicer about things. They have fought me every step of the way. They have her wedding ring which is white gold with some sapphires on it and it has the date of our marriage inside the ring. The main thing is the white gold diamond engagement ring I gave to her because of how long it took me to work for it. It feels pretty low that they’ve taken that, I’d say. It’s very simple with one diamond but beautiful. It’s sentimental. But when you’ve contributed 100% of your life and have had 100% of your life taken from you then there's no more - there’s zero per cent - to care about I suppose.
If you could change anything about the way you've been perceived, what would you say?
Don't believe everything you read.