An Australian man who raped and strangled his Indian student neighbour and threw her body into a canal in a suitcase was jailed on Friday for 45 years for the “horrifying” murder.
Daniel Stani-Reginald, 21, had plotted to rape and murder a woman for years before choosing Tosha Thakkar, a 24-year-old accounting student who lived in an adjoining room at his Sydney boarding house, the Supreme Court heard.
He read thousands of Internet articles on serial killers and sex attackers before assaulting Thakkar in March 2011 and throttling her with a cable in a crime described by judge Derek Price as “extraordinarily cruel”.
“The last minutes of her life must have been horrifying. This was a terrible way for the deceased to die,” Price told the court.
After he killed Thakkar, Stani-Reginald, who pleaded guilty, stuffed her body in a black cloth suitcase, took a taxi to a nearby canal and tossed it into the water in broad daylight, a “callous” act, said Price.
He had shown no remorse and had poor prospects of rehabilitation, the judge said, ruling he was likely to offend again and was a danger to the community.
Though his father had murdered his mother in his presence when he was 10 years old, leaving him a state ward, psychiatrists who examined Stani-Reginald found no evidence of mental illness.
Price jailed Stani-Reginald, of Sri Lankan descent, for a maximum 45 years, 30 years of which must be served without possibility of parole, stopping short of the life sentence sought by prosecutors.
Thakkar’s family were disappointed with the term.
“We have lost Tosha forever. We’re not going to get her back, so we were expecting a life sentence,” said cousin Pratik Thakkar.
A spate of violent crimes against Indian students in Australia in recent years strained diplomatic ties between the two countries and prompted street protests, damaging Australia’s reputation and seeing foreign enrolments dive.