‘Vicious, callous killing’: Prosecutors seek life sentence for man who murdered Aiia Maasarwe
The man who murdered international student Aiia Maasarwe should serve life in prison because the prospects of him ever being rehabilitated during his 36-year sentence are too slim, prosecutors have told the Court of Appeal.
Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions Kerri Judd, QC, is appealing the sentence handed down to Codey Herrmann for the murder and rape of Ms Maasarwe after she exited a tram in Bundoora on January 16, 2019.
Codey Herrmann at a previous hearing.Credit:Justin McManus
Herrmann was jailed for 36 years, with a non-parole period of 30 years, by Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth in 2019, but Ms Judd argued on Thursday that the sentence was manifestly inadequate.
In her submissions, Ms Judd said that the sentence failed to give sufficient weight to community protection and was too favourable when considering mitigating factors, such as Herrmann’s troubled background.
“This was a vicious, callous and intentional killing of an unsuspecting young woman who was the unfortunate and random victim of ‘primitive male rage’,” she said.
“[Herrmann] showed no regard for the victim in the attack or in his burning of her body.
“The shocking nature of [Herrmann]’s offending has had and continues to have a devastating impact on the victim’s family. They speak of bearing of the scars of her death, both emotionally and physically.”
In sentencing, Justice Hollingworth found the killer’s personality disorder, which stemmed from a childhood of disadvantage and neglect, reduced his moral culpability. Herrmann was also diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder.
Herrmann, a 22-year-old Indigenous man, experienced a chaotic childhood of poverty, neglect and dysfunction in a family home where drug and alcohol abuse and family violence was rife. He was abandoned by his mother and in care in the first 18 months of his life.
After hearing evidence from a psychiatrist and neuropsychologist, Justice Hollingworth said when sentencing Herrmann that he had a “fair” chance of rehabilitation if given appropriate treatment, support and supervision.
However, Ms Judd disagreed with that assessment, saying that one expert described his prospects of rehabilitation as “poor” and the other said they couldn’t rule it out.
Ms Judd argued that Herrmann would not get the required one-on-one treatment in custody that would allow him to be released into the community.
“There’s all these other factors that would need to fall into place for him to be rehabilitated,” she said.
“This court should be very cautious about feeling optimistic about him being rehabilitated because there’s so much that stands in the way.”
Ms Judd said life in prison, with the possibility of parole, would reflect the “brutality and severity” of the offence, drawing a comparison to the sentence given to Jaymes Todd for the murder of Eurydice Dixon.
In response, Herrmann’s lawyer, Tim Marsh, said that the sentence was “stern” but not inadequate given the circumstances.
He said that ruling out Herrmann from ever being rehabilitated by giving him a life sentence was an attempt to anticipate the “far future”.
“It cannot be forgotten that the next three decades for a 20-year-old man is an enormous period in his life,” he said.
Mr Marsh said that it was an act of “clairvoyance” to say that Herrmann posed an unacceptable risk on his potential release in 2049.
“Then almost any homicide sentence could be justified as a life sentence because of the possibility of that risk,” he said.
“It’s a very short step from there to disproportionate sentencing.”
The appeal was heard in front of Court of Appeal president Justice Chris Maxwell, and justices Stephen Kaye, Richard Niall, Terry Forrest and Karin Emerton.
A decision will be handed down at a later date.
With Adam Cooper
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