An Australian man who had previously been found guilty of male rape in 1992 has been found guilty of killing of a gay man the year before.
Sydney man Paul Armstrong had been found guilty of murdering Felipe Flores in 1991 by the Supreme Court of New South Wales in 2010 after DNA evidence revealed blood found under Flores’ fingernails belonged to him.
However an appeals court overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial.
Armstrong then agreed to plead guilty to the lesser crime of manslaughter with a partial defense of provocation – claiming he had not been fully in control of himself as he says Flores told him he was HIV positive after they had oral sex.
Last week government prosecutors accepted that offer and tendered a statement of agreed facts to the court.
‘The Crown accepts that taking into account the community concern in 1991 as to contracting HIV, that it could have induced an ordinary person in the position of the offender to have so far lost self control as to have informed the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm,’ the statement reads.
Flores had been found covered in blood in grassland near an electricity substation less than an hour after leaving the nearby Exchange Hotel with Armstrong in 1991 and died before paramedics could arrive to save him.
An autopsy found his internal injuries were so extreme that his liver had almost been split in two.
His killer’s identity remained a mystery until 2008 when DNA testing matched the blood to Armstrong, a regular at the Exchange Hotel.
Armstrong initially claimed the blood must have gotten there during a sexual encounter with Flores at the hotel and suggested Flores must have been the victim of a gay bashing.
Armstrong testified on Thursday that by 1991 several of his friends had caught HIV, as had his younger brother, so he had been terrified of catching the disease and when Flores told him he was HIV positive he snapped.
I thought it was a death sentence, Armstrong said earlier today, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘I had so many thoughts going through my mind – how long would I have, would I be walking around like a human skeleton?’
Armstrong will appear in court again for a sentencing hearing at a later date but he is likely to receive a far shorter sentence than if he had been convicted of murder.