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Killer saw partner cheating, lost control

AAP logoAAP 9/11/2016 Andi Yu

When Roy Tabalbag peered through his front door and saw his partner of five years having sex with another man, he lost control.

The 31-year-old grabbed a chef's knife - ironically given to his girlfriend by her lover - bashed down the door to the bathroom, where the man had run to hide, and stabbed him 15 times.

Tabalbag was sentenced on Thursday to four-and-a-half years behind bars for the manslaughter of Geecy Rebucas' lover Amin Sthapit in November 2013 in a Darling Point unit in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

He has already served most of that time, so could be out of jail in 18 months.

Philippines national Tabalbag was earlier this year deemed a murderer but the decision was overturned on appeal.

In a retrial, a second jury last week found him not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.

In handing down her sentence, Justice Jane Mathews said Tabalbag's violence was "serious and sustained" but he "truly had no control over his actions".

"It was clearly a huge shock to open the door to reveal what was happening inside," she said.

The couple had moved from the Philippines the year before for Ms Rebucas to pursue her goal of becoming a chef.

It was Tabalbag's hope that they would soon get married and have children, the court heard.

But in the months leading up to the killing, Ms Rebucas started cheating on Tabalbag with Mr Sthapit, her boss at the Golden Sheaf hotel in Double Bay.

Tabalbag gave evidence he had little memory of stabbing Mr Sthapit and described a kind of out-of-body experience.

"I was in front of him and then (I was) just looking at myself in either the second or third person, swinging the knife," he said.

"I didn't mean to hurt anyone, let alone kill someone on that day."

Afterwards, he left the blood-covered apartment and handed himself to police.

"I caught my wife cheating with another guy so I stabbed him," the court heard he had told an officer.

Tabalbag told the court he'd been secretly tracking Ms Rebucas' iPhone because he suspected she was having an affair.

On the morning of the killing, she texted to say she was at TAFE, but Tabalbag checked her phone's location on an app and found she was still at home.

He lied to his boss about why he had to go home and drove over to investigate.

Justice Mathews said the only aggravating factor in Tabalbag's crime was the use of the chef's knife.

"The knife just happened to be in easy reach immediately after he opened the door," she said.

The maximum penalty for manslaughter is 25 years, but Tabalbag's offence fell below mid-range of objective seriousness, the judge said.

Mitigating factors were his excellent behaviour in prison, good character and lack of previous convictions, the judge said.

His early plea of guilty to manslaughter earned him a 25 per cent discount on his sentence.

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