Aiia Maasarwe’s killer will not be jailed for life as appeal fails

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A pile of flowers lay in tribute where the body of Isreali student Aiia Maasarwe was found on January 17, 2019. Picture: AAP Image/Stefan PostlesSource:AAP

An attempt to jail a man for life for the brutal unprovoked murder of a woman on her way home in Melbourne has failed.

Codey Herrmann was sentenced in October 2019 to 36 years jail with 30 non-parole by the Supreme Court of Victoria for the rape and murder of Aiia Maasarwe.

Prosecutors had appealed arguing 30 years was not enough, but the Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed the case.

Ms Maasarwe, a Palestinian-Israeli international student, was only 21 when she was randomly attacked by Herrmann while she was FaceTiming her sister, walking in Bundoora on her way home from a comedy show.

Shortly after midnight on January 16, 2019, she was the victim of Herrmann’s unprovoked brutality.

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Codey Herrmann murdered Aiia Maasarwe. Picture: AAP Image/James RossSource:AAP

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Herrmann pictured after he was arrested and charged with the ‘inexplicable’ murder. Picture: Alex CoppelSource:News Corp Australia

He knocked her unconscious, dragged her into the bushes, assaulted her, and set her body on fire in a sickening and senseless act.

A bench of five judges — Chris Maxwell, Stephen Kaye, Richard Niall, Terrance Forrest, and Karin Emerton — said on Friday that Herrmann’s crimes were “deeply shocking” and “seemingly inexplicable”.

Herrmann had never been convicted of a crime before and his actions that day caused “extreme private grief and enormous public distress”, their reasons for judgment said.

But they said the sentencing judge Elizabeth Hollingworth had used great care and skill when making her decision not to sentence him to prison for life.

She had balanced Herrmann’s severe personality disorder and childhood of profound deprivation and trauma against the shocking facts of the crime, they said.

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International student Aiia Maasarwe was killed in Melbourne on January 16, 2019. Picture: InstagramSource:Inside Higher Ed

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Aiia Maasarwe uploaded this picture of herself skydiving to her Instagram account. Her family was left devastated by the senseless killing.Source:Instagram

“The expert evidence of Associate Professor Andrew Carroll, a forensic psychiatrist, established that Codey Herrmann’s severe personality disorder was the direct result of his childhood deprivation, and that there was a clear causal connection between his impaired mental functioning and the offending,” the judgment said.

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“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 told the court in an appeal hearing in March that Herrmann should be jailed for life to protect the community.

But his lawyer Tim Marsh had said a minimum of 30 years was an appropriate sentence.

He argued it was right that Herrmann’s young age, personality disorder, Aboriginal disadvantage and deprived upbringing were taken into account by sentencing judge Elizabeth Hollingworth.

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The nation was left reeling and in shock after Aiia Maasarwe was raped and murdered while studying in Melbourne in an unprovoked attack.Source:News Corp Australia

“The learned sentencing judge’s remarks and conclusions are unremarkable, uncontentious and balanced,” he said.

“(She) summarises the respondent’s developmental history, acknowledging the respondent’s infancy as one of extreme physical and emotional deprivation.

“She recognised, inferentially, that he ought not to be viewed in the same way as ‘a person who had had the advantage of a stable upbringing and whose values had been shaped by appropriate parenting’.”

Ms Judd had argued a minimum of 30 years for the murder was “manifestly inadequate”, but the Court of Appeal disagreed.

“Violent, unprovoked and sexually motivated offending against women in the public domain has an impact on the community as a whole,” Ms Judd said in March.

“(It) restricts the free movement of people within our society, particularly women.”

“This was a vicious, callous and intentional killing of an unsuspecting young woman.

Hermann could not explain his motive for the rape and murder other than that he “hated the world”, the court was told.

“The killing was perpetrated against a young woman who was a stranger to the respondent and who was simply walking home on a public street,” Ms Judd said.

Hermann, who was only 20 years old when he killed Ms Maasarwe, will be eligible for release in 2049.

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