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Nurse killer argues for shorter jail term

The man who killed beloved outback nurse Gayle Woodford needed to be punished and there was a clear need to protect the community from the 35-year-old serial offender, a court has been told.

Dudley Davey came before the Court of Criminal Appeal in Adelaide on Thursday seeking a reduction in his 32-year minimum jail term for the rape and murder of Ms Woodford.

Defence lawyer Nick Vadasz argued his client was not given enough discount on his non-parole period for his early guilty plea.

Mr Vadasz said in its sentencing legislation, state parliament intended, and offenders expected, to get a 30 per cent reduction.

The discount applied in Davey's case was closer to 8.5 per cent.

He also told the court that the 35-year starting point for Davey's non-parole period, before any discount, placed it in a "rarified area" with only two other sentences above 30 years in murder cases where there had been a guilty plea.

But prosecutor Ian Press said it was within the sentencing judge's discretion not to allow the full discount and the 32-year period was within an acceptable range given the seriousness of the offending.

He said to give the 30 per cent discount would have resulted in a sentence that was inappropriate.

"There was a clear need to punish Mr Davey. There was a clear need to protect the community," Mr Press said.

He also pointed to the very strong case against Davey and his lack of remorse, telling the court the man's apologies "count for nothing" as they always came after he had been caught.

The Crown had previously argued that a lesser sentence would have "shocked the public conscience".

Ms Woodford, 56, was found buried in a crude grave three days after she went missing from her home in Fregon, in the state's north, in March last year.

When she imposed her sentence in June, Justice Ann Vanstone said Davey was a drug addict and serial offender, who had an "abnormal desire to rape women".

He had plainly chosen Mrs Woodford as an "easy target, vulnerable because of her empathy".

"This was a cold-blooded killing of a woman who had worked with skill and compassion in your community," the judge said.

She said Davey's offending was "callous in the extreme" and at the higher end of the scale for rape and murder.

The appeal court has reserved its decision.

© AAP 2017