Thursday 23 November 2017

‘I’ll never forgive Australian killer for my friend’s needless death’

THE injured best friend of a young man beaten to death in Australia has said he will never forgive the “crazy monster” who was today jailed for 18 years for murder.

The horrific murder of backpacker David Greene in Melbourne sent shockwaves through the city and left his family heartbroken.

Earlier today, a judge told David’s killer Luke James Wentholt (32) – a martial arts enthusiast – that he had committed a senseless murder against a man who had shown no aggression towards him.

Fuelled by alcohol and cannabis Wentholt also launched a savage attack on the dead man's friend David Byas, who was left with severe injuries.

Speaking to the Herald today, Mr Byas (29) said: “That night he [Luke] was a crazy, evil monster and he nearly took my life as well as David’s.

“I'm furious though that there is all this talk of remorse and rehabilitation. Someone like him can never be rehabilitated.”

Mr Greene never regained consciousness after the horror attack and died in hospital on September 7 last year.

The Cabinteely man watched the 18-and-a-half year sentence being handed down via video in the Four Courts this morning with his parents.

Wentholt is expected to serve around 15 years behind bars.

“There was stunned silence when it was read out. I'm furious that there is all this talk of remorse and rehabilitation.

“Someone like him can never be rehabilitated,” David said.

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

Sentencing Wentholt in the Supreme Court of Victoria Justice Terry Forrest said as the victims lay stricken Wentholt stomped and kicked their heads.

“One witness described you as behaving like a crazy monster, others said you were off your head,” Justice Forrest said, adding there was no excuse for “outrageously violent conduct”.

“You stomped and kicked both men in the head many times with your bare foot. You ran from the house and were confronted by the police.”

Mr Greene (30) from Cabinteely was staying at a backpacker hostel in St Kilda East, Melbourne, in August last year.

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

Witnesses heard raised voices and the loud banging when Wentholt punched Mr Greene, knocking him unconscious, and was heard to shout “what's going on, what's up?”.

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

Wentholt pleaded guilty to the murder and recklessly causing serious injury to Mr Byas.

Mr Greene died in hospital on September 7 last year, without regaining consciousness.

Today David Byas said that his friend’s death was totally needless. “Dave was such a good guy, he was so funny, he had me in stitches,” he said at his Dublin home, adding that he is unlikely

to ever return to Australia.

In his sentence, Justice Forrest said Wentholt was a violent repeat offender with convictions dating back to his early teens. He was released from jail less than a year before the murder after serving time for bashing and robbing a sex worker.

He said Wentholt pleaded guilty on the basis it was reckless rather than deliberate murder, a plea that entitled him to a substantial sentencing discount.

The maximum term was 18-and-a-half years but he’s likely to be free in around 15 years.

Justice Forrest added: “David Greene's family have lost a much loved young man. Their grief is compounded by the mindless violence that accompanied his death.”

Mr Greene's mother Catherine had previously told the court that her son was her best friend and “kindest person you could meet”.


Kevin Doyle and Niall O’Connor

Online Editors

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