An Australian man who raped and murdered an Arab-Israeli exchange student in Melbourne was sentenced on Tuesday to 36 years in prison with a non-parole period of 30 years.But the judge’s sentence was less than the life sentence sought by the prosecution, due to several factors brought up by his defense lawyer.Codey Herrmann, 21, pleaded guilty to brutally hitting Aiia Maasarwe over the head with a metal pole at least nine times, raping her and setting her body and clothes on fire behind bushes in the early hours of January 16.“Treating her body this way showed utter contempt for her dignity,” Victoria Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth said during sentencing, adding that the horrific treatment of Maasarwe’s body – after she had been killed by Herrmann – was a “significant aggravating feature” of his crime, according to news.com.au.Maasarwe, from the village of Baka al-Gharbiya near Haifa, was about 100 meters (328 feet) from a tram stop on her way home from a comedy gig when she was brutally attacked, The Australian reported.“You piece of s**t,” were the final words she said to him as he attacked her, news.com.au reported. Maasarwe was on the phone with her sister at the time of the attack, according to The Australian.Hollingworth described Maasarwe, who was also 21, as a “friendly, optimistic and kind young woman who had her whole life in front of her.”The judge told those in the courtroom that Maasarwe was “physically small, unsuspecting and alone,” adding that she “had no opportunity to flee or defend herself.”“Women should be free to walk the streets alone without fear of being attacked by strangers,” Hollingworth told the court.
Horrific final moments of murdered student Aiia Maasarwe revealedTwo rows ahead of Herrmann was Maasarwe’s father, Saeed, and sister, Noor. During the sentencing remarks, Saeed moved seats to comfort Noor, who sobbed loudly and repeatedly wiped away tears. On multiple occasions she turned and glared at Herrmann, who refused to make eye contact, news.com.au reported.“Her death left an enormous hole in their lives... Why did you do these appalling things?” Hollingworth asked, appearing to become emotional, the news site added.Police found Herrmann’s DNA on weapons discarded near Maasarwe’s remains. His defense claimed he didn’t mean to strangle Maasarwe, who was on an exchange program studying at Melbourne’s La Trobe University.PROSECUTORS HAD sought a life sentence for the “vicious and violent and depraved” attack by Herrmann, which showed a “complete and utter disregard for the humanity of the victim,” The Guardian reported.Herrmann’s lawyer, Tim Marsh, had previously told the court that the young man deserved some leniency because he had a personality disorder, The Guardian explained, noting that the culprit had experience severe childhood trauma that had warped his world view. He told the court that Herrmann’s difficult upbringing had led to the moment of “rage” that killed Maasarwe on January 16.News.com.au said that Herrmann had been subjected to “extreme physical and emotional deprivation” that started within the first six months of his life.When Herrmann was three, he was placed into foster care in Perth, a home he stayed in until he turned 18. He was then transferred to youth housing before becoming homeless.“I want to humanize him,” Marsh told the court on October 1.Herrmann had broken up with his girlfriend a year before Maasarwe’s rape and murder – and had attempted suicide in the month before the crime.ABC News said the judge took into account his life of “profound chaos and despair before the murder,” as well as his fragile mental state. She also took into account his age and medical condition, and that he had pleaded guilty at the earliest possible opportunity, sparing the family the trauma of going to trial.Hollingworth also determined that Herrmann had fair prospects of rehabilitation, if he had appropriate support and supervision, ABC reported.“Codey Herrmann, you have taken one life but you have broken many more hearts,” Maasarwe’s sister, Ruba, told the court through a statement read by Prosecutor Patrick Bourke at a plea hearing earlier this month.