Australian man sentenced to 36 years for rape, murder of exchange student

Noor Massarwe, sister of slain exchange student Aiia Maasarwe, arrives Oct. 29 at the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. Aiia, 21, was killed in January.
(Associated Press)

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 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.

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 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.