Pia Navida: murdered in 1992. Photo: Supplied
More than two decades after Pia Navida's naked, battered body was found lying off a NSW bush track, a man has been sent to jail for her "barbaric" rape and murder.
Steve Isac Matthews, 43, was sentenced in the NSW Supreme Court to a minimum of 16 years and three months behind bars on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to the aggravated sexual assault and murder of Ms Navida, a 37-year-old Filipino woman, in 1992.
Justice Geoffrey Bellew said Matthews' maximum sentence of 21 years and six months was appropriate, given the "barbaric" and "horrendous" nature of his crime.
Ms Navida's body was found in the Royal National Park, south of Sydney, on February 1, 1992, when bushwalkers discovered her underwear and other personal items scattered nearby.
Police determined she had been raped and then bludgeoned to death with a large rock, completely crushing her face, before her body was dragged a small distance and dumped.
Matthews would have been 21 at the time.
Justice Bellew said Ms Navida, who arrived in Australia in the early 1980s from the Philippines as a young bride, lived a nomadic lifestyle, was involved in drugs and worked as a prostitute near Sydney Central.
The cold case went unsolved until 2011 when advances in DNA technology allowed police to match semen found on and inside Ms Navida's body to Matthews and another man, Rodney James Paterson.
Paterson maintained his innocence and was acquitted in March when Justice Bellew upheld his application that the evidence was incapable of convincing a jury of his guilt.
Justice Bellew said on Thursday that Matthews had taken a girlfriend for picnics to Bundeena, where Ms Navida was found, when he dated her in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Matthews told her he had killed a person in a bush area and demonstrated to her what he had done.
The court heard Matthews was himself a victim of a major assault in 2005, which had left him with a serious brain injury and little memory of his life prior.
But Justice Bellew said that, while Matthews had recently shown remorse, saying he was "sickened and disgusted" by his actions, his criminal history did not allow for leniency in his sentence.
Matthews will be eligible for parole in November 2027.