The son of a Melbourne grandmother whose body was found in a barrel says police are trying to set up him, telling an inquest she was his best friend.
John Amenta says he doesn’t know what happened to his mother Lucia, who was missing when her husband Paolo returned home from buying bread in January 2008.
He also does not believe his father was involved in her death, saying although his parents were like “chalk and cheese”, they loved each other.
“I didn’t think once at all it was my dad,” he told the Victorian Coroners Court on Thursday.
But Mr Amenta accused police of a witch-hunt.
“I don’t look like a priest. They’re trying to frame me. I’ve done nothing wrong. It’s ruined my life,” the 44-year-old said.
John and his father Paolo Amenta were granted immunity from prosecution before testifying.
The inquest heard Paolo and Lucia Amenta were due to take lunch to John Amenta.
Paolo bought bread from the local shop before noon and returned home to find his wife gone.
In a phone call almost four hours later, he told son John she was missing.
John Amenta said he thought it was a “bit weird” because they were due to visit him and she was usually punctual.
It was also strange for his mother to walk anywhere because of a sore hip and his father usually drove her around.
John Amenta said his father always had barrels and he was sickened to learn his mother was found in one identical in size and colour to one found in his father’s backyard.
He could not recall carrying a barrel on the back of his ute a month after his mother disappeared.
“I carry a lot of stuff on the back of the ute,” he said.
John Amenta said he and his father failed to engage with police regarding the inquest because he was angry at them.
“I’m angry with the police. No one helped me at the start. It made me hate them.”
He said his mother was his best friend.
“I didn’t expect her to disappear, never in my wildest dreams,” he said.
“Everyone’s saying it’s my dad, they’re saying I’m involved.”
Coroner Ian Gray grilled Paolo Amenta about why he took several hours to tell his son his wife was missing.
“I was waiting for my wife to return home as I’ve done many times before. I was worried, yes, but what could I have done?” he said.
No one has been charged over Mrs Amenta’s death.
The coroner will deliver his ruling next year.