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Sunday 20 April 2014

Man described as ‘crazy monster’ jailed for 15 years for murder of Irishman

A man who acted like a "crazy monster" when he stomped Irish backpacker David Greene to death has been jailed for 15 years in an Australian court.

Justice Terry Forrest told Luke James Wentholt, 32, that he had committed a senseless murder against a man who had shown no aggression towards him.

Mr Greene, 30, and his Irish friend David Byas were attacked without warning by Wentholt at a party in a house used by backpackers in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda East on August 25 of last year.

Justice Forrest said Wentholt was jealous that Mr Greene had been joking with his girlfriend, and then asked him into the hallway.

Witnesses heard raised voices and the loud banging and Wentholt punched Mr Greene, knocking him unconscious, and was heard shouting: "What's going on, what's up?".

As others tried to intervene, Wentholt attacked Mr Byas, knocking him unconscious.

During the sentencing hearing of Wentholt in the Supreme Court of Victoria, Justice Forrest said as the victims lay stricken down on the ground, Wentholt continued to stomp and kick their heads.

"One witness described you as behaving like a crazy monster, and another said you were off your head," Justice Forrest said.

"You stomped and kicked both men in the head many times.

"You did this with your bare foot.

Aunt of David Byas leaves the Court with backpacker mate of David, Neil Clark
Aunt of David Byas leaves the Court with backpacker mate of David, Neil Clark

"You ran from the house and were confronted by the police."

Wentholt pleaded guilty to the murder of Mr Greene, 30, from Cabinteely in Dublin.

He also pleaded guilty to recklessly causing serious injury to David Byas, 29, who attempted to intervene during the frenzied unprovoked attack, which was fuelled by booze and cannabis.

Mr Greene died in hospital on September 7 last year.

His family, who had flown from Ireland were forced to turn off his life support due to the extent of his injuries.

In his sentence, which was streamed over the internet to the Greene family in Dublin, Justice Forrest said that Wentholt was a violent repeat offender with convictions dating back to his early teens.

He had been released from jail less than a year earlier after serving time for bashing and robbing a sex worker.

Justice Forrest said Wentholt pleaded guilty on the basis it was reckless rather than deliberate murder, a plea that entitled him to a substantially lower prison sentence.

The maximum term was set by the judge at 18 and a half years.

David's aunt was present in court, as were a number of fellow backpackers who were present at the time of the incident.

Mr Greene's family watched the live sentencing via a specially organised video stream.

Justice Forrest said he took into account the victim impact statements from Mr Greene's family and Mr Byas.

"David Greene's family have lost a much loved young man," he said.

"Their grief is compounded by the mindless violence that accompanied his death. His death was unprovoked and totally unnecessary."

By Norrie Ross

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