The man accused of choking a Filipina woman to death inside a Wagga apartment has told the court he "never could imagine something like this would happen".
Rian Ross Toyer appeared at Wagga District Court on Thursday for a sentencing hearing after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
The 33-year-old was residing at a unit on Tarcutta Street when he met Mhelody Bruno through a dating app.
Ms Bruno was a transgender woman who is referred to by her deadname Rowell Polan Bruno in court documents.
She had arrived in Australia in August on a tourist visa and was primarily living in the Wagga region.
Court documents state that about 8am on September 21, 2019 emergency services were called to attend the unit after reports a woman had stopped breathing. Medical assistance was rendered to Mhelody, resulting in her regaining a pulse.
She was intubated and upon arrival to Wagga Base Hospital was placed into an induced coma. The next day Mhelody's health deteriorated and she went into cardiac arrest and died.
Police interrogated Toyer, who said he had been in a relationship with Mhelody for about three weeks.
On the morning of September 21, the pair awoke and began having sexual intercourse during which Toyer began choking Mhelody. He described this as a "common practice they took part in".
Due to the pressure, Mhelody lost consciousness. When Toyer noticed she was unresponsive, he stopped, called an ambulance and began CPR.
On Thursday, Toyer took to the witness stand during the sentencing hearing and told the court on the day of Mhelody's death it was not the first time had choked her during sex.
Defence barrister Mark Dennis asked Toyer how it happened the first time.
"The first time we were having sex, she grabbed my hand and put it on her neck and sort of squeezed my hand ... showing me what to do, I took over from there," Toyer said. "When she wanted me to let go, she would tap my arm."
Toyer said they had never discussed the process in words.
Judge Gordon Lerve asked Toyer if the first time it happened "it must have occurred to you as something unusual", but he responded "not really your honour".
During cross-examination, Crown Prosecutor Virginia Morgan pressed Toyer on how he knew Mhelody wanted to be choked.
"There was no discussion ... we just did a lot of different things you wouldn't normally do," Toyer said.
Ms Morgan said "the risks involved in that practice must have been patently obvious" . But Toyer said he "could not imagine something like this would happen".
When asked what he was thinking while engaging in this act, Toyer said "I didn't actually consider it to be dangerous. I didn't think anything was going to go wrong."
He agreed that before Mhelody lost consciousness on September 21, she was facing away from him during intercourse and he could not see her face.
"You were wholly relying on her ability to signal to you when she was in distress," Ms Morgan asked.
"Yes," Toyer said.
"Do you agreed one of the very obvious consequences of restricting a person oxygen flow is loss of consciousness," Ms Morgan asked.
"Yes," he said.
"Do you agree cutting off someone's oxygen flow and relying on someone to signal to you physically they were in distress is dangerous," Ms Morgan asked.
"I guess so," Toyer said.
The defence and the prosecution supplied written submissions to Judge Lerve before the court appearance on Thursday. Mhelody's family also provided written victim impact statements and watched the proceedings via video link.
Mr Dennis said the offence was in the low-range towards the bottom, and he took issue with several submissions made by the Crown prosecutor.
He said the fact the relationship was "of short duration" did not affect the objective gravity and asked the court to consider if the pair had been in a relationship for 20 years, would it reduce the sentence.
Mr Dennis also argued it did not matter that the choking was not discussed verbally, and that sexual gratification as motivation did not increase the gravity.
"It's an innocent enough motivation," he said. "It's important that people's otherwise lawful sexual practices - even if considered unusual by some - not be demonised."
In response, Ms Morgan said the short relationship directly relates to "the level of trust or understanding between them that would make this less dangerous".
She explained that had the pair been in a long relationship and engaged in this practice without having a "misadventure", the objective seriousness may be less.
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"The Crown conceded there is remorse present in this matter. A sentence of full-time custody is warranted," Ms Morgan said.
Both the defence and the prosecution agreed there were few prior cases with similar facts.
"I really am in uncharted waters aren't I?" Judge Lerve said.
Mr Dennis said it would not be remiss of Judge Lerve to consider a sentence other than imprisonment. He also referenced that Toyer was a Corporal with the Royal Australian Air Force who lost his employment after Mhelody's death.
The matter is set to appear again before Wagga District Court in March.