Neuschwanstein Castle: Man sentenced to life for murder and rape after woman pushed down ravine near German landmark

A man has been sentenced to life in prison over a violent attack on two American tourists near a castle in Germany said to have inspired Disney.

The 31-year-old US citizen was accused of throttling, raping and killing a 21-year-old woman and throwing her 22-year-old friend down a 100-metre ravine near Neuschwanstein Castle, in Bavaria.

He was convicted of murder, attempted murder and rape with fatal consequences.

The man, from Michigan, had admitted to the charges at the start of his trial last month.

In line with German privacy laws, authorities did not identify the victims and only allowed the perpetrator to be identified as Troy B.

At the time of the incident, relatives said the victims were recent graduates of the University of Illinois and the woman who died was Eva Liu, 21.

The judge presiding over the trial concluded the man bore particularly severe guilt - meaning, under German sentencing guidelines, he likely won't be eligible for release after 15 years as is usually the case in the country.

Judge Christoph Schwiebacher described him as "incredibly callous", adding a release after 15 years would "not be justifiable".

The man allegedly met the two friends near one of Germany's best-known attractions, in June last year.

Prosecutors say the trio were close to the Marienbruecke, a bridge over a gorge that offers views of the castle.

After luring them away from the trail, he is said to have forced the younger woman to the ground and tried to undress her.

When the other woman tried to intervene, there was a scuffle and he allegedly pushed her down a steep slope.

She fell about 165ft (50m) but survived, suffering a head injury and several bruises.

The man is then said to have strangled the younger woman until she passed out, before raping her.

Prosecutors say she was killed when she was also pushed down the slope.

Judge Schwiebacher said he "disposed of her like a bag of garbage".

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The court in Kempten, southern Germany, found the defendant wanted to keep footage of his actions - material that became important evidence to investigators - as a "trophy".

Police officers arrested him near the scene of the attack.

Neuschwanstein is said to have been the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland, California, and the Cinderella Castle in Disneyworld, Florida.