Man pleads guilty to 'lover's lane' death

It has been more than two decades since Felipe Flores's battered, half-naked body was found at a "lovers' lane" in Sydney.

Now, after an inquest, a trial and an appeal, a man has pleaded guilty to his manslaughter.

Mr Flores, from Ecuador, was last seen by friends "picking up" another man at Sydney's Exchange Hotel on Oxford Street in the early hours of September 2, 1991.

Hours later, his body was discovered naked from the waist down in Woolloomooloo, in an area once coined "lovers' lane".

The impression of a shoe sole was found on the face of the 27-year-old, whose severe internal injuries included a liver almost split in two.

For years, the circumstances surrounding his death remained a mystery, with a 1995 inquest finding he died from multiple injuries at the hands of an unknown person or persons.

But after detectives from the Unsolved Homicide Squad reviewed the investigation in 2008 they found DNA under Mr Flores's fingernails.

In December 2008, Paul Armstrong was arrested in Tasmania.

In 2010, the case appeared to be finally closed when Armstrong was later convicted of Mr Flores' murder after a trial.

But an appeal last year meant he was due to face a retrial in the Supreme Court this week.

On Wednesday he pleaded not guilty to Mr Flores's murder but guilty to manslaughter on the basis of provocation.

A statement of facts tendered to court reveal that in December 2008 Armstrong made "off the record" admissions to police regarding Mr Flores's death.

In it he told two detectives that he had gone to the lover's lane with Mr Flores and had oral sex with him.

It was during this act, or shortly after, that Mr Flores told Armstrong he had HIV.

"I just lost it and bashed him," Armstrong told police.

At the time of the killing, there was "considerable fear" around HIV, not only around how it affected those who had it, but also how it was contracted, the facts state.

The crown said it accepts this fear and Mr Flores's admissions as to his HIV status induced Armstrong's loss of self control.

Armstrong will return to court for sentencing later this month.

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