Tuesday 12 December 2017

'Evil monster' gets 18 years for murder of backpacker

Aidan and Catherine Greene with a photo of their son, David, who was murdered in Australia
Aidan and Catherine Greene with a photo of their son, David, who was murdered in Australia
Killer Luke James Wentholt play-fighting with Mr Greene
David Byas, who was seriously injured in the attack at a hostel

Niall O'Connor, Breda Heffernan and Norrie Ross

AN IRISHman who survived a vicious attack in which his friend was murdered has described the Australian killer as a "crazy, evil monster".

David Byas (29) from Dublin, said Luke James Wentholt, who had a string of criminal convictions, can never be rehabilitated.

Wentholt (31) was sentenced to 18 years and six months in jail for the murder of David Greene (30), from Cabinteely, and recklessly assaulting Mr Byas, from Dun Laoghaire, in an unprovoked attack in a Melbourne backpackers' hostel in August last year.

Passing sentence in the Supreme Court of Victoria yesterday, Mr Justice Terry Forrest said Wentholt must serve a minimum of 15 years before he can be eligible for parole.

NIGHTMARE

Mr Byas, who watched the hearing via video link at the Four Courts in Dublin, said there was "stunned silence" when the sentence was read out.

"That night he was a crazy, evil monster and he nearly took my life as well as David's," he said.

"I'm furious at all the talk of remorse and rehabilitation. Someone like him can never be rehabilitated.

"He never said sorry to me, and I wouldn't accept it if he did. It's been a nightmare year."

Grieving parents Aidan and Catherine Greene and their sons, Luke and Aidan, also watched the video link at the Four Courts.

Mr Greene said the knowledge that his son's killer will spend at least 15 years behind bars did not bring him any comfort.

"I don't know how I feel," he said. "What it will give me is some time to come to terms with what's happened, because we have been running to Australia and back for the last year.

"But things are never closed. I'm reluctant to use the word 'closure'. What it gives me is time to concentrate on coming to terms with what's happened."

Mr Greene said he was glad Wentholt was sentenced in Australia rather than in Ireland as he doubted the sentence would be so lengthy here.

"I thought, 'We're lucky this wasn't in Ireland because he would have got half that here'," he said.

Mr Justice Forrest told Wentholt yesterday that the Greene family's grief had been compounded by the "mindless violence that accompanied his death".

The court heard Mr Greene and Mr Byas were punched and kicked unconscious by jujitsu expert Wentholt, who then stomped barefoot on their heads as they lay on the floor.

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

The two friends had been attending a party at a boarding house when Wentholt became enraged after seeing Mr Greene talking to his girlfriend.

Wentholt knocked him unconscious before attacking other partygoers including Mr Byas.

Bricklayer Mr Greene died in hospital on September 7, having never regained consciousness.

Mr Byas suffered a traumatic brain injury and was placed in an induced coma.

He has since made a good, though incomplete recovery and has not yet been able to return to work.

The court heard Wentholt had a criminal record stretching back 13 years with numerous convictions for assault.

Less than a year before the murder, he was released from prison after serving time for the assault and robbery of a sex worker.

However, Mr Justice Forrest told him that, in light of a report from a psychologist: "I accept that your prospects for rehabilitation are better than your criminal history suggests."

Irish Independent

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