The Law on Murder in NSW

 

21-year-old Codey Herrmann has finally been sentenced by the Supreme Court of Victoria following his plea of guilty to the horrific crimes of rape and murder of Aiia Maasarwe, an Israeli exchange student.

Hermann was handed down a penalty of 36-years imprisonment with a 30-years non-parole period, representing the minimum period he will spend behind bars before being eligible for release on parole back into the community.

As he has been bail refused, serving time in custody already, by the time of his sentence on Tuesday, he has already been in custody for 283 days.

This means, he will be eligible for release on parole back into our community in 2049.

Present during the sentence in court was her father and sister who had travelled from Israel.

During the sentencing process in court, Her Honour Justice Hollingworth expressed the difficult times her family were enduring subsequent to her death.

Her Honour also said, “treating her body in this way showed utter contempt for her dignity”.

“she had no opportunity to flee or defend herself.”

“You quickly subjected her to a savage attack with a crude weapon until she was unconscious.”

“You dragged her off the footpath to a position of cover where you raped her… you struck her with the clear intention of killing her not merely injuring.”

“Woman should be free to walk the streets alone without the fear of being violently attacked by strangers.”

 

The Gruesome Attack

It is reported that Aiia Maasarwe was walking home by herself in Melbourne’s north when Herrmann appeared.

He hit her head with a metal pole causing her to lose consciousness before he dragged her away where he raped her.

She was hit about 12 more times with the metal pole until she eventually died from head injuries.

Herrmann then took out and sprayed her body with WD-40, lighting her body on fire.

The Prosecutor described this killing to be amongst Australia’s most “vicious” and “depraved” crimes.

 

Codey Herrmann

Codey Herrmann gave evidence to the court about his upbringing.

This includes evidence of his “extreme physical and emotional deprivation” from as early as about 6-months following his birth in 1998.

Her Honour, during sentencing said, “By your first birthday, your mother had abandoned you to a relative whose own children has been taken by court order”.

“About six months later, you were taken into care and hospitalised with scabies.”

He was subsequently taken to hospital while still a toddler suffering from “rotten teeth, digestive problems and delayed developmental milestones.”

At the age of about 3, he was put into the care of foster parents in Perth at least until about 18.

He developed a drug addiction resulting his relationship with his foster mother breaking down before he moved to Melbourne staying in youth housing.

He subsequently lived homeless.

About a year before this crime, his relationship with his girlfriend broke down, and about a month prior to this offence he tried to kill himself.

At the time of this crime, Herrmann was homeless, living of the what he could shoplift from supermarkets around him.

But Her Honour, said, “That’s a rather bleak reflection of the circumstances you were previously living in.”

The tragic death has left her family heartbroken and devasted.

Her sister Noor said, “She was always smiling and full of energy. As Mother Teresa once said, ‘Some people come into our life as blessings and some people come into our life as lessons.’ Aiia just happened to be both.”

Our Criminal Lawyers Outline of the Law on Murder in NSW

In NSW, the crime of murder carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment (section 18 Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)).

Anyone accused of murder in NSW will be found ‘guilty’ by the Supreme Court if each of the following elements are proven beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution:

  1. The accused person did a voluntary act causing the victim’s death; and
  2. Whilst at the same time, he/she:
    1. Intentionally inflicted upon the victim really serious injury or permanent or serious disfiguring; or
    2. Intentionally killed the victim; or
    3. Realised the probability that his/her actions would result in the victim’s death; or
    4. He/she was committing a crime that carries a penalty of up to at least 25-years imprisonment (constructive murder).

While the above are the elements required to be proven before a person can be found ‘guilty’ of murder, the below are some defences to a charge of murder in NSW:

  1. Self-defence.
  2. If the victim’s death was substantially caused by an intervening act other than the action(s) of the accused.
  3. Mental illness.
  4. Involuntary actions of the accused due to alcohol or drugs.
  5. Automatism, including epileptic fit or sleep walking.

Section 61 Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) stipulates that life imprisonment is to be imposed for a person convicted of murder in NSW If the extent of criminality of the offence is so extreme that the community interest in punishment, community protection, retribution and deterrence can only be satisfied by imposing such a sentence.

A more thorough outline on this is explained in our previous article on “The Law and Penalties for Murder in NSW”.

If the Court decides not to impose life imprisonment, the law requires the Court to impose a parole and non-parole period of imprisonment sentence.

Currently, there is a 20-year standard non-parole period for the crime of murder in NSW.

The standard non-parole period is not mandatory to impose by the court, rather it’s there as a guide and only applies to cases that fall at least in the mid-range of objective criminality for offences of this type.

The non-parole period is the minimum period of full-time prison or behind bars the offender is required to spend before being eligible to apply for release on parole back into the community for the duration of the parole period.

Have questions on this topic?

Our Sydney criminal lawyers welcome any feedback or questions.

With a team dedicated to criminal law only, our team are available 24/7 on (02) 8606 2218.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

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