A Colombian student extradited to Australia for murder has admitted killing a Sydney sex worker in a rage after learning she was transgender.
Hector Enrique Valencia Valencia appeared in the NSW Supreme Court on Monday, pleading not guilty to murdering Kimberly McRae at her Coogee apartment between January 7 and 14, 2020.
The 23-year-old Colombian national, who was arrested in the Caribbean island of Aruba before being returned to Australia, pleaded guilty to unlawfully killing Ms McRae, who was 69 at the time of her death. The Crown has rejected this lesser plea.
Defence barrister Claire Wasley said Valencia had arranged to obtain services answering an online ad from Ms McRae on January 8. After becoming suspicious part-way through, he punched her in the stomach and face.
"It is the accused's case that he did not know the deceased was 69 years of age or was transgender," Ms Wasley said.
"The accused then lost self-control."
Crown prosecutor Craig Everson SC told Justice Dina Yehia that Valencia, who was studying in Australia at the time of the killing, then wrestled Ms McRae on the ground after he punched her.
This was done with either an intent to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm, Mr Everson said.
A broken lamp with a broken power chord was found near Ms McRae's body when it was discovered on January 14. At the time, her twin sister Karen had sounded the alarm and property manager Corrine Smith visited the two-bedroom flat to see if the tenant was alright.
Ms McRae's body was found covered with a blanket. She was wearing tights and a grey long-sleeved top which was pulled down, exposing her breasts.
"I could smell like a bad - like a decomposing - like a strong smell," Ms Smith told the court.
An autopsy concluded that neck compression was the cause of death.
Valencia admitted submerging three Apple iPhones belonging to Ms McRae in her toilet to try to cover up the SMS's they had exchanged before the killing.
In a chat on Facebook Messenger to a friend on January 10, he explained why he was suddenly departing Australia.
"I threw my life away, dude. I am escaping because I do not want to end up in jail in Australia," he wrote in a post translated into English.
"I die of shame to tell this to anybody. I believe I killed a whore.
"I better go to Colombia before they catch me. I cannot see her in the news. I do not know if she is dead but she must be after what happened."
Valencia sold his motorbike, used his landlord's credit card to buy plane tickets and then boarded a flight to Colombia on January 11.
He claims that after he punched Ms McRae, she attacked him with the lamp, leading him to fear for his life.
"The accused was naked and the deceased was between him and the door. The accused wanted to leave but he could not," said Ms Wasley.
Ms McRae was also an author, publishing her autobiographical memoir, Hey Boys, She's Got a Gash and Other Tales of Gods, under the pseudonym Isabella Lawson.
The judge-alone trial continues.