- May 18, 2013, Sydney Morning Herald
As he and the driver heft the case into the boot, the young man lies to explain the bag’s surprising weight and bulging contents, telling the driver it’s ”full of laptops and electrical gear”.
CCTV footage, later tendered as evidence, shows the 19-year-old Daniel Stani-Reginald chatting happily to the driver as they make a short trip to the Parramatta River.
He then removes the case and walks off.
In the words of NSW Supreme Court Justice Derek Price the ”calmness demonstrated by the offender” in these moments showed the utter ”callousness of his crimes”.
On the morning of that taxi ride, on March 9, 2011, Stani-Reginald confronted Indian student Tosha Thakkar in the hallway of the second-storey boarding house they shared in the inner-west suburb of Croydon.
Forcing the 24-year-old back into her room, he then raped and assaulted her and strangled her with a black coaxial cable.
The 19-year-old storeman then stuffed his victim’s body in a suitcase, booked a taxi to Meadowbank and dumped her in a canal that flows into Parramatta River.
”The last moments of her life must have been terrifying – this was a terrible way to die,” Justice Price said as he sentenced Stani-Reginald to at least 30 years’ jail on Friday.
The court heard that Stani-Reginald had been planning and fantasising about crime for months beforehand, viewing thousands of internet articles about serial killers, notorious rapists and murders in which the victim’s body was dumped in a suitcase.
These included Australian cases such as Dean Shillingsworth, the murdered toddler whose body was dumped in a suitcase, and foreign killers such as the Yorkshire Ripper and Richard Ramirez.
”There is documented evidence he had been planning similar offences for a period of years, gradually becoming more focused,” Justice Price said.
Shortly before the murder, Stani-Reginald had psyched himself up by viewing pornography, including videos of degrading acts being done to Indian women. Afterwards he returned to his computer to re-read an article entitled ”The Beginnings of a Serial Killer”.
”The offender’s lack of empathy for the enormity of his crime is evident from the articles he viewed online before and after the murders,” Justice Price said.
The court heard that a number of psychiatrists examined Stani-Reginald over the course of his extended criminal history. All but one found that while Stani-Reginald was disturbed, there was no clear evidence of a mental disorder or psychosis, even though as a child he had witnessed his father murder his mother.
Justice Price found that the now 21-year-old had demonstrated no contrition or remorse and represented a serious threat to the community.
”The offender’s prospects of rehabilitation are very poor. His juvenile record is replete with his refusals to accept assistance,” Justice Price said.
”I’m satisfied that there’s a real risk that the offender will reoffend with acts of violence and sexual assault.”
Nevertheless, Justice Price stopped short of sentencing Stani-Reginald to life, as prosecutors had suggested, finding the offender’s young age meant such a sentence could equate to as much as 60 years in jail.
He sentenced Stani-Reginald to a maximum of 45 years in jail with a minimum non-parole period of 30 years.
After the sentence was handed down, Ms Thakkar’s cousin Pratik Thakkar said the family had been expecting a life sentence and was disappointed.
”She was a happy girl and I think the only mistake she made is thinking all is good, everyone is good,” Mr Thakkar said.
”[Her parents] didn’t send her [to Australia] for these things. They wanted her to have a good life. It’s like everyone here; we want to be happy and live Australian life – that’s why she was here.”
With time served, Stani-Reginald will be eligible for parole in March 2041 at the age of 49.