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Rape, murder victim's final words revealed

Aiia Maasarwe spent her final words telling her rapist and murderer exactly what she thought of him.

Just moments after the 21-year-old international student phoned her sister in Israel, she was brutally attacked with a metal pole outside a Melbourne tram stop by Codey Herrmann, an angry and disaffected squatter with a drug problem.

As Ms Maasarwe's mobile phone lay on the ground, Ruba heard her sibling screaming "you piece of shit" in Arabic before the impact of four of Herrmann's blows. Then the screaming stopped.

Herrmann dragged her into nearby hedges, struck her at least nine more times, sexually assaulted and strangled her, Victoria's Supreme Court was told on Tuesday.

It's unclear whether she was still alive when he drenched her with WD-40 and set her on fire using a barbecue lighter.

After attending a city comedy show Ms Maasarwe - a Palestinian Arab of Israeli citizenship who had moved to Australia for study - had caught a tram home to Bundoora and was attacked just minutes after alighting.

She died from extensive head injuries and her body was found hours later, early on January 16, by a passer by on the way to work.

Herrmann, now 21, was arrested two days later when police found his blood-stained cap and t-shirt, as well as the WD-40 can and pole ditched in a nearby reserve.

He pleaded guilty to rape and murder but maintained he did not intentionally strangle his victim, his lawyer Tim Marsh said.

Ms Maasarwe's mother, Kittan, cannot comprehend the crime.

"Why should I lose my daughter because of a reckless monster in the form of a human being, without conscience or mercy?" she wrote in a statement to the court.

"I am a mother whom her heart has been squeezed in pain, day after day, thinking of my little girl ... how she screamed and I did not hear her screams and I was not with her to help her and defend her and protect her."

Mr Marsh described the crimes as a "savage rape and homicide", drawing comparisons with the 2012 rape and murder of Melbourne woman Jill Meagher.

Herrmann was squatting in a condemned house and subsisted off shoplifted croissants and chocolate milk at the time he killed Ms Maasarwe.

His life was essentially "get Centrelink, buy drugs, share them with mates, shoplift food from the supermarket," Mr Marsh said.

He added Herrmann had developed drug problems after a traumatic childhood, was cut adrift from his Aboriginal culture and heritage and displayed traits of a personality disorder.

"There is a core of anger in Mr Herrmann," Mr Marsh said.

When he asked Herrmann why he was angry, the young man replied "I have everything to be angry about".

A psychological report suggested his crimes came from an attempt "to redress the gross power imbalance he felt between himself and the world".

He had used a significant amount of ice the day before he killed Ms Maasarwe but there was no suggestion he was in a drug-induced psychosis at the time.

Mr Marsh anticipated a long jail sentence for Herrmann but cautioned against life imprisonment.

The hearing is expected to continue on Wednesday.

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