Pakistani student Mehreen Ahmad attended a party celebrating the end of university exams in Perth when she began flirting with a Brazilian man she had a crush on, but within hours she was lying in a pool of blood on a stairwell.
Ms Ahmad, 32, was brutally attacked by 28-year-old Eduardo Santos Abrahao Filho and suffered such catastrophic brain injuries she cannot move, communicate or feed herself and is incontinent.
She is not expected to substantially recover and needs 24-hour care.
Filho admitted intentionally causing grievous bodily harm to Ms Ahmad in May last year and was sentenced in the West Australian Supreme Court on Thursday to nine-and-a-half years behind bars.
Justice Bruno Fiannaca said the cause of their confrontation remained a mystery given the only version of events came from Filho.
The court heard the pair had been intimate that night but when Ms Ahmad became distressed and started screaming, Filho put his hand over her mouth in a bid to silence her.
He hit her head against the ground and she fell down two sets of stairs during the struggle.
Filho fled the scene when witnesses arrived.
Justice Fiannaca said although the brutal and unprovoked attack was out of character and not in the worst category of offending, it was not far below it.
Filho’s decision to flee was cowardly and callous, and panic was not an excuse.
“You showed no regard for her condition,” Justice Fiannaca said.
In a letter, Filho described his actions as despicable and said his attempt to stop Ms Ahmad from screaming was grotesque.
Justice Fiannaca accepted Filho was remorseful but said he had also diminished his acceptance of responsibility through his statements.
He said Filho was a low to moderate risk of reoffending, but if he did not accept he intended to harm her in his own conscience, not just through his guilty plea, there would always be a risk he would snap again.
Ms Ahmad’s parents listened to court proceedings from Pakistan.
Justice Fiannaca described their victim impact statements as heart-wrenching.
He said Ms Ahmad’s mother made a particularly poignant comment about the impact on their lives.
“If she had died that day, we would, I think, have come to terms with that loss,” she said.
“We are instead trapped in what feels like a never-ending darkness.”
Filho must spend at least seven-and-a-half years in prison before he can be eligible for parole and is then expected to be deported.
Outside court, Inspector Darryl Cox said the pain and suffering to Ms Ahmad and her family could only be imagined.
“They’ve had a healthy, beautiful young adult that is now in a bed, in a vegetative state,” he said.