Killer attacked woman as she FaceTimed sister before raping her and burning body

A killer who randomly attacked a stranger from behind as she was FaceTiming her sister on her way home has avoided a whole life sentence.

Codey Herrmann, then 20, pounced on Aiia Maasarwe, 21, while she headed back from a comedy show in Melbourne, Australia.

He beat the Palestinian-Israeli international student unconscious with a metal pipe at around midnight on January 16, 2019.

Herrmann then dragged her behind some bushes and raped her, before he set her body on fire to cover up his crime.

Her body was discovered the next morning and he was arrested two days later.

The killing sparked a wave of anger in the country about violence towards women.

He admitted to the murder and was jailed for 36 years with 30 years non-parole in October 2019 at the Supreme Court of Victoria.

His victim had been living in the city on a one-year university exchange.

An appeal was later lodged to jail him for life, with prosecutors arguing in March 2021 that 30 years was not long enough.

But the Court of Appeal dismissed the case on Friday, June 11.

The bench of five judges described the crimes as being "deeply shocking" and "seemingly inexplicable".

They said he had caused "extreme private grief and enormous public distress".

But the bench backed the sentencing judge’s decision not to jail him for life.

They said she had balanced the killer’s severe personality disorder and deprived upbringing against the facts of the case, news.com.au reports.

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Their judgment said there was a "clear causal connection" between his "impaired mental functioning" and the attack.

It added: "In our respectful view, her Honour was fully justified in viewing Codey Herrmann as less morally culpable for this atrocious conduct than a person who had not suffered such deprivation and impairment."

Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd QC had previously described it as a "vicious, callous and intentional killing of an unsuspecting young woman".

The court heard he was not able to explain his motive for the killing, apart from that he "hated the world".

His lawyer Tim Marsh had argued the sentence was appropriate.

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