DESPITE killing his former girlfriend Klarissa "Sal" Callow and leaving her for dead in a locked storage shed, Bowan Taylor Wade could be back on the streets and free to resume his life in less than two years.
After two days of deliberation, the Toowoomba Supreme Court jury in Wade's murder trial found the 22-year-old not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.
Justice Peter Applegarth sentenced Wade to nine years jail, but declared the 1004 days he had served in custody since his arrest in August, 2009 as time already served under that sentence.
Wade is eligible for release on parole at the half-way point of the nine-year sentence, less than two years away.
Crown prosecutor Andrew Anderson had asked for a sentence of nine years with a declaration that Wade was a serious and violent offender, meaning he would have to serve 80% of the sentence.
However, Justice Applegarth declined to make the declaration.
Justice Applegarth said he found Wade had pushed or thrown the slightly built 17-year-old Ms Callow off boxes inside the rented storage shed at Stanthorpe on August 9, 2009, then choked her for a short time until she turned blue.
Thinking she was dead, possibly of a broken neck, Wade had locked the storage shed and fled Stanthorpe, but handed himself in to police in Warwick the next day.
The judge said that adding to the callousness of the tragedy, Wade had made no attempt to call emergency services for help and the forensic pathologist had found at autopsy that Ms Callow had survived for some hours.
Justice Applegarth said what actually took place inside the storage shed that day "will never be known as her (Ms Callow's) voice will never be heard".
He told Wade Ms Callow was not his only victim and that her family and friends had lost "a delightful young woman".
The trial heard Wade and Ms Callow had gone to the storage shed that day so she could retrieve some of her property she had stored there.
By telephone calls to friends the next day, Wade told of "losing it" during an argument with his former girlfriend.
He told one friend he had pushed her off boxes before choking her until she turned blue.
Ms Callow's body was found crumpled on the floor near the door of the shed, her head twisted to the side against a wooden cabinet and her legs crossed up against the wall.
Blood that had flowed from her nose pointed to asphyxia, the pathologist found.
Wade had pleaded guilty to Ms Callow's murder when he appeared before the Toowoomba Supreme Court in March last year, but the Court of Appeal set aside that plea because it found it had been made under extreme distress.
Justice Applegarth acknowledged the delay in having the matter finalised added to the stress of Ms Callow's family, many of whom wept openly in the court gallery throughout the sentencing process yesterday afternoon.
Many of the jury were visibly distressed when returning to the court room to deliver the verdict and some broke into tears as the manslaughter verdict was announced.