THE killer of a gay man, bashed to death following a casual sexual encounter in Sydney, has today been sentenced to 10 years in jail.
The verdict, in the NSW Supreme Court, comes more than 20 years after Ecuadorian born Felipe Flores’ body was found in a park adjacent to a then infamous “lovers lane” in the Sydney inner-city suburb of Woolloomooloo.
Paul Armstrong, who is now 50, admitted savagely beating Flores after the latter told him he was HIV positive.
In a rage following the admission, Armstrong inflicted major internal injuries on Flores that lead to a ruptured liver and spleen, broken ribs and facial and head injuries.
He later hid Flores’ body, with his trousers still down by his ankles, into nearby parkland, the court heard.
Armstrong originally denied any involvement in the crime, instead suggesting Flores has been another victim of a spate of gay bashings.
However, in 2008, the NSW Police’s Unsolved Homicide Team found blood beneath Flores’ fingernails and on his shirt belonging to Armstrong.
Originally sentenced to 17 years, with a non-parole period of 11 years and six months, Armstrong’s murder conviction was overturned last year with a retrial ordered.
According to Fairfax Media, the Director of Public Prosecutions allowed Armstrong to plead to the lesser charge of manslaughter on the grounds that that, in 1991, the discovery of Flores’ HIV status could have provoked him to lose self control.
However, Justice Christine Adamson said provocation could not entirely explain Armstrong’s actions bearing in mind he had regularly had casual sexual encounters.
“Although infection by the HIV virus was potentially fatal, it was a risk that Mr Armstrong was clearly willing to take, given his cavalier attitude to sex,” she said.
“His acts after the assault were clearheaded and callous.
“I’m satisfied that Mr Armstrong thought he had got away with killing Mr Flores, whose death could be easily explained away as another of the so-called ‘gay killings’.”
Adamson sentenced Armstrong to a maximum of 13 years and three months in jail, with a non-parole period of nine years and 11 months.