Murat Davsanoglu must serve at least 18 years after previously maintaining for months he drowned 34-year-old Ozlem “Ozzie” Karakoc as part of a suicide pact because that’s what she wanted.
He hoped a Supreme Court jury would find him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter but broke down in the witness box, confessing he murdered the mother-of-one.
Despite the public confession, however, he later wrote to prosecutors in a bid to take back the plea.
Davsanoglu and Ms Karakoc had been in an on-and-off relationship for 18 years but three weeks before her murder she became engaged to another man.
Justice Lex Lasry said Davsanoglu had killed her to stop her leaving him, in another example of a man using violence to control a woman.
He said significant force would have been needed to drown Ms Karakoc, who fought back, and that she must have been terrified.
Afterwards Davsanoglu drove her body back and forward between Melbourne and South Australia over several days before stashing her remains in a garage and handing himself into police.
He sat emotionless as the sentence was handed down today.
Members of Ms Karakoc’s family spoke tearfully outside court of a woman who would do anything for them and whose death had left a hole.