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Australian sentenced to 36 years for murder, rape of Israeli

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — An Australian judge sentenced a man to 36 years in prison on Tuesday for the murder and rape of an Israeli student in the city of Melbourne.

Victoria state Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth ordered Codey Herrmann, 21, to serve at least 30 years behind bars for his crimes against 21-year-old Aiia Maasarwe in January.

Herrmann had pleaded guilty to repeatedly beating Maasarwe with a metal pole, sexually assaulting her and setting her on fire in the attack.

"Women should be free to walk the streets alone without fear of being violently attacked by a stranger," Hollingworth said. "She had no opportunity to flee or escape."

The victim had been studying at La Trobe University in Melbourne for the previous five months as an exchange student from Shanghai University in China.

She was on her way home from a comedy club to her student accommodation on the campus when she was attacked shortly after stepping from a tram.

Herrmann faced a potential maximum penalty of life imprisonment for murder and rape carries a potential maximum of 25 years.

Maasarwe's relatives sobbed in the public gallery as the judge recounted details of the killing.

"It was a savage attack with a crude but effective weapon which immediately rendered her unconscious," the judge said, noting Maasarwe had been alone, small in stature and unsuspecting.

He then set her body on fire to destroy evidence, which "showed utter contempt of her dignity," the judge said.

Prosecutors had applied for the killer to be imprisoned for life. But Herrmann's lawyer Tim Marsh told the court his client deserved some leniency because he had a personality disorder stemming from a severely traumatic childhood and this had warped his view of the world.

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