News State QLD News Man pleads guilty to rape, murder of French student Sophie Collombet

Man pleads guilty to rape, murder of French student Sophie Collombet

Sophie Collombet's murder sparked an outpouring of public sympathy in Brisbane. Photo: Facebook
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A man who was living in a homeless shelter in Brisbane has pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of French student Sophie Collombet, whose body was found naked and battered in an inner city rotunda in 2014.

The 21-year-old business student was on her way home after a night class at Griffith University when she was attacked in South Brisbane on March 27, 2014.

Her naked and battered body was found by a jogger the next morning in a rotunda at Kurilpa Park sparking a major police investigation involving about 60 officers.

At a committal hearing last year, the court heard that in the day before – as well as the day of the killing – Benjamin James Milward, who was living in a homeless men’s shelter, smoked the drug ice and drank alcohol.

In July 2015, Milward was committed to stand trial on charges of rape, murder, deprivation of liberty and robbery.

Ms Collombet’s family is expected to be in Australia for Milward’s sentencing on October 26.

In April 2014, more than 2000 people gathered in Brisbane for a march and candlelight vigil in memory of Ms Collombet.

Milward’s mother proud ‘he owned up’

Milward’s mother Diane said he was very sorry and is ready to accept whatever happens.

“I’m actually quite proud that he’s owned up to it and he’s not trying to fight it or deny it,” she said.

“I couldn’t imagine what they [Sophie’s family] are going through having a child taken away from them but my heart just bleeds for them.”

Ms Milward said the drug ice got the better of her son.

“They all seem to think that they can handle it, they’ve got control but yeah they don’t,” she said.

Milward’s aunt Tere said he “got lost in a crowd”.

“Unfortunately when you mix drugs with it as well it becomes a whole new different ball game, and especially with ice,” she said.


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