A man who never explained why he murdered his housemate before dumping her body in bushland in Sydney's north will spend at least 13 years behind bars.
Shuo Dong, 21, pleaded guilty in February to murdering Qi Yu, 28, after she disappeared from her Campsie unit in June 2018.
Almost two months later, her body was found 43 kilometres away near an emergency stop area on a highway near Mount Kuring-gai.
Dong faced Acting Justice Peter Hidden on Friday at the Supreme Court, where he was sentenced to a total of 18 years in prison, with a non-parole period of 13 years and six months.
Justice Hidden said while the Chinese national had never explained his motive for killing Yu, he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt the murder was pre-meditated.
Dong spent the evening of June 8, 2018 bickering with Ms Yu over bond money he owed her and over his lease being cut short, according to documents tendered at his sentence hearing.
Ms Yu's parents, who were speaking to her from China via WeChat, could hear the argument in the background when the power to the unit was shut off. They later contacted a neighbour to check on their daughter.
The following day a third female housemate called emergency services with "grave concerns" for Ms Yu.
Soon after police found a 15-centimetre red stain "consistent with blood" on the staircase, along with more red spots and flecks on a nearby landing.
Ms Yu's car was later found a few kilometres away in Burwood with more blood stains on the rear driver's side.
Two days before the murder, Dong did an internet search for "how would homicide be sentenced in Australia" and visited related web pages including "criminal offence sanction between China and Australia".
Ms Yu's parents said she was an "intelligent, beautiful, lovely, lively and innocent girl" who came to Australia in 2009 as an international student.
Justice Hidden said there was a "degree of callousness" in the offender's dumping of the UNSW graduate's exposed body at the bottom of a gully among dead branches and shrubbery.
He accepted Dong has schizophrenia but said there was no evidence the murder was the product of a psychotic episode.
Justice Hidden also accepted Dong switched off the power on the night of the murder to lure Ms Yu out from her bedroom, which she normally kept locked.
"It is fair to say there's something bizarre about this criminal episode, dreadful as it was," he told the court.
"(Dong) has pleaded guilty...but I'm not persuaded he is remorseful for his crime. In light of his refusal to explain his motive, he has not demonstrated responsibility."
Justice Hidden said Dong would have been sentenced to a total of 24 years in prison if not for his early guilty plea.
He will eligible for parole in December 2031.
Australian Associated Press