Just only hours before Elizabeth Wilms was last seen alive, she told a friend she was petrified of her boyfriend.
The 29-year-old woman was found dead in a Kew flat in 2016 with 43 separate injuries including a broken nose, finger and extensive bruising across her body after a prolonged vicious assault.
Alexander Dow Freeburn has been sentenced to 25 years in prison on Friday after a jury found him guilty of the brutal murder.
“Only a few hours before Elizabeth was last seen alive, she confided to an acquaintance she was petrified of you,” Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth stated in her sentencing remarks.
Ms Wilms also told her father and a friend that Freeburn had pulled her hair, put pressure on her chest so she couldn’t breathe and kicked her, the judge said.
Freeburn met Ms Wilms on a dating website and they had been together for only five to six weeks prior to her death, the judge said.
The last time the victim was seen alive was on CCTV footage from the Kew flat and showed her and Freeburn moving around the kitchen on June 30, 2016.
“You clearly lost control of yourself … and subjected her to a brutal and sustained assault,” Justice Hollingworth said.
On July 2, Freeburn fled the flat with suitcases and a laptop and travelled to another woman’s house where he started a sexual relationship with her.
Three days later the body was found after family reported Ms Wilms missing.
“You left Elizabeth, dying and alone, on the floor of your room. Thereafter you made only half-hearted and totally ineffectual efforts to obtain assistance for her,” Justice Hollingworth said.
Ms Wilms had a mild intellectual disability which made her particularly vulnerable to exploitation, the judge said.
“It is clear that Elizabeth was a loving and much-loved member of her family and her death has affected them greatly in many different ways,” she said.
“They are shocked and devastated – not only by her death but also by the circumstances in which she died.”
An autopsy found the presence of GHB in Ms Wilms’ system.
The defence had argued at the trial that Ms Wilms’ death was a result of the consumption of GHB, but that was rejected by the jury.
Freeburn had been a drug user and had previously consumed ice and other illicit heavy drugs.
Several of Ms Wilms’ family members wept during the sentencing.
Sporting a black eye, Freeburn wrote in a notepad in court and was expressionless when jailed.
He was jailed for 25 years, with a non-parole period set at 20 years.
For help in a crisis call 000. For help or information regarding domestic violence call the Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 737 732. Online you can visit www.1800respect.org.au.