Man escapes jail after manslaughter of trans woman

Mhelody Polan Bruno was 25 when she died after being choked during sex. (Facebook)

A former corporal in the Royal Australian Air Force will not spend time in jail, despite being convicted for the death of Mhelody Bruno, a trans woman.

Rian Ross Toyer, 33, pleaded guilty to Bruno’s unlawful killing on 21 September, 2019, during a trial in Wagga Wagga, Australia.

Bruno died after falling unconscious while being choked by Toyer as they had sex. The pair met on Grindr and had been dating for three weeks, and the court heard that Bruno and Toyer had an argument the evening that she died.

The court heard that Bruno, 25, had not requested to be choked but also that she had not asked for the choking to stop.

Convicting Toyer of the lesser sentence of manslaughter, Justice Gordon Lerve said he was “satisfied on balance” that Bruno “not only consented to the act of choking but actually instigated it … [the first time the couple] had sex”.

He said the choking was “committed in course of a consensual sexual act”, that there was “no issue or concern as far as public safety” and that Toyer was “unlikely to reoffend”.

Lerve concluded that while the pair never verbally discussed the choking, there was an agreement as to “a method of communication whereby the deceased would tap on the offender’s arm” to get him to stop, which “tragically … did not work on this occasion”.

“The offender reacted quickly when he realised there was a difficulty and commenced CPR and called triple-0,” Justice Lerve said. The court could not establish how long Bruno had been unconscious before Toyer noticed.

After Toyer called emergency services, Bruno was taken to Wagga Wagga Base Hospital where she was put into an induced coma. She died the next day.

Toyer lost his job in the air force after Bruno’s death, which Lerve took into account when sentencing him. Toyer also received a 25 per cent discount on his sentence for pleading guilty. In the end, he was sentenced to a 22-month Intensive Correction Order with conditions including 500 hours of community service.