DNA advances sees prostitute killer found guilty of murder

A KILLER, who drove a Sydney sex worker to favourite childhood camping spot and together with two friends, raped her before bashing her to death with a rock, has been jailed for 21 years.

Steve Isac (correct spelling) Matthews was one of three males who targeted 39-year-old Pia Navida, a Filipino sex-worker known to frequent seedy drug-dealing café "Greasys" outside Central Station in the early 90s.

The NSW Supreme Court heard Mr Matthews and two others - one alleged co-accused was acquitted earlier this year and the third accomplice has only ever been identified as "unknown male A" - took Ms Navida to the Bundeena National Park in 1992.

Bushwalkers discovered Ms Navida's naked body on a remote track with a bloodied rock nearby and her belongings strewn about the ground.

From the beginning, police knew there was no need for Ms Navida to travel so far away for paid-for sex and confronting evidence, which included the DNA of three separate males being discovered under her fingernails, was consistent with non-consensual sex.

But it wasn't until 2011 that advances in DNA technology found a match in Matthews and the acquitted co-accused.

Police found the pair had been seen together, six weeks after the murder in Queensland and Matthews had been a regular client at Greasys.

When he was first interviewed, Matthews told police he did not recognise his co-accused or Ms Navida and that he was suffering memory loss as a result of a traumatic brain injury.

One of his former girlfriends told police that during their relationship, they had regularly had picnics in the Bundeena National Park, where his family had often camped when he was young.

She recalled him telling her he had once "killed a person…in a bush area by bashing the person with a large rock" and had demonstrated wielding the rock with both hands.

She also described an occasion where Matthew's had encouraged her to participate in group sex and other sexual deviant behaviour which was consistent with evidence found on Ms Navida's body.

Matthews was extradited from Victoria and eventually pleaded guilty late last year.

In handing down a head sentence of 21 years on Thursday, Justice Geoffrey Bellew described the murder as "barbaric, horrendous and of the upmost seriousness".

Matthews will be eligible for parole in November, 2027.

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