Killer Stapleton, 21, gave his name as “psycho” at his first court appearance.
He was found guilty of murder at Manchester Crown Court, and told he would serve a minimum of 30 years for shooting dead 23-year-old Lancaster University student Anuj Bidve.
The judge called Stapleton a “highly dangerous man” who had carried out a “truly wicked act”.
Stapleton was accused of laughing and smirking both after he had shot Bidve and during the trial.
“You have behaved in a way demonstrating that you are positively boastful about having killed Mr Bidve,” the judge said.
Bidve had moved to the UK to study micro-electronics at Lancaster University and was visiting Manchester with a group of friends last Christmas.
He was shot on Boxing Day as he walked with his friends in Salford.
Stapleton reportedly told a psychologist in prison that he had picked out Bidve because “he had the biggest head”.
The judge said: “In my judgment, this was no impulsive act on your part. It was a piece of cold-blooded controlled aggression.
“When you went out you were fully minded to find a victim to satisfy your desire to shoot and kill someone if you could.”
Stapleton apparently smiled widely at his family as he was taken from the court to carry out his sentence.