Former Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Corporal Rian Ross Toyer, convicted for the manslaughter of trans woman Mhelody Bruno, has been jailed for at least for 12 months. 

Toyer, 33, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges for choking Filipina trans woman Mhelody Bruno to death during a sex act on September 21, 2019. 

Justice Gordon Lerve admitted to an error in earlier sentencing Toyer to an intensive correction order and 500 hours of community service that let him avoid jail time for the crime. 

The Wagga Wagga District court on Monday sentenced Toyer to 22 months’ jail, with a non-parole period of 12 months. “Clearly in purporting to impose an Intensive Correction Order I made an error,” said the judge. 

The sentencing in the case was reopened after the parties before the court pointed out that those convicted of manslaughter were not eligible for an Intensive Correction Order instead of a prison sentence.

The rules say that “ICOs are not available for certain offences, including manslaughter, murder, prescribed sexual offences, certain terrorism offences, breaches of serious crime prevention and public safety orders, and offences involving the discharge of a firearm”. 

The judge said he regretted not being able to impose an intensive corrective order in the case. 

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“I remain firmly of the opinion that if the law permitted the offender to serve the sentence by way of an Intensive Correction Order it would be the appropriate course in this matter,” the ABC quoted the judge. 

“Given the offender’s age and lack of record, given he will spend some time in custody and the issues of the post traumatic stress as diagnosed … he will in all likelihood require assistance in reintegration into the community,” said the judge while deciding on the non parole period. 

Mhelody Bruno Was Killed Within A Month Of Arrival In Australia

Mhelody Bruno had arrived in Australia from the Philippines in August 2019. She met Toyer on the gay dating app Grindr. The couple were in a relationship for three weeks before her death. 

Toyer and Bruno had argued on September 20, 2019, before the couple spent the night in the former RAAF corporal’s unit in Wagga Wagga. 

The next morning, Toyer choked Bruno while they had sex. Toyer told the police later that the couple had commonly indulged in erotic asphyxia. He admitted that Bruno had never asked for her to be choked, though he said she had not asked him to stop. 

Judge Lerve in his order held that the choking had occurred “in the course of a consensual sexual act”. The judge said he was satisfied that  Bruno “not only consented to the act of choking but actually instigated it … (the first time the couple) had sex”.

“Although there was no discussion as to the boundaries, there was an understanding the deceased would tap the offender’s arm if she was distressed or wanted him to stop the choking.” The judge said tragically, this “did not work on this occasion”.

The court ruled that it was not known for how long Bruno was unconscious before Toyer realised it, performed CPR and then called emergency services. Bruno was rushed to the Wagga Wagga base hospital where she was placed in an induced coma. She died the next day. 

Judge Lerve Toyer on March 19 sentenced Toyer to a 22-month Intensive Correction Order, with 500 hours of community service. Toyer had received a 25 % discount for his guilty plea. Monday’s order now corrects this sentencing error with a prison term for Toyer.

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

 

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