Wednesday 16 October 2019

Martial arts expert admits murder of Irish backpacker in crazed attack

Luke James Wentholt (left) with victim David Greene on the night he attacked him
Luke James Wentholt (left) with victim David Greene on the night he attacked him
David Greene

Norrie Ross

A MARTIAL arts expert described as a "crazy monster" has pleaded guilty to fatally stomping Dublin backpacker David Greene in a frenzied bare-footed attack.

Luke James Wentholt (31) a man with a brutal past, changed his plea when he appeared on a prison video link in the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, yesterday.

When the charge of murdering Mr Greene was read to Wentholt he paused for several seconds, appeared to swallow deeply, and then replied "guilty".

Wentholt also pleaded guilty to intentionally causing serious injury to Mr Greene's Irish friend David Byas (28), in the unprovoked and prolonged assault in Melbourne on August 26 last year.

Mr Byas was lucky to survive the attack.

Prosecutor Mark Rochford told Justice Betty King that Wentholt's guilty plea was made on the basis that it was reckless murder as opposed to intentional murder.

Justice King remanded Wentholt in custody for a pre-sentence plea hearing on July 30 and he will be sentenced at a later date.

The blood-spattered assault was described by a witness as a rampage by a crazy monster.

At a previous hearing in Melbourne Magistrates' Court Wentholt's girlfriend said that she saw him stomping on the heads of Mr Greene and Mr Byas after an argument at a hostel in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda East.

Shayla Pullen said a group of friends were drinking at the Lynedoch Avenue hostel where Mr Greene and Wentholt lived, and she had never seen the killer as drunk as he was on that night.

She told the committal hearing she thought Wentholt was angry because Mr Greene had joked about accidentally seeing her nipple earlier in the week. She heard her boyfriend say, "Dave, I want to talk to you outside" and a short time later heard arguing and the sound of smashing and then another Irish voice.

Ms Pullen said she went to investigate and in a hallway saw Mr Greene and Mr Byas lying motionless on the floor while a bare-footed Wentholt stomped a number of times on their heads.

Wentholt was bare-chested and she screamed at him to stop but he kept on stomping on the stricken victims.

Stomped

"I just remember there was lots of blood. Every time he stomped there was lots of blood," Ms Pullen said.

Mr Greene never recovered consciousness and died in Melbourne's Alfred Hospital nearly two weeks later with his distraught family at his bedside.

Mr Byas was in a coma for four days and after undergoing long-term rehabilitation returned to Ireland.

The court heard Wentholt was a ju-jitsu expert who trained five times a week.

Outside court yesterday friends of Mr Greene and Mr Byas said they were relieved there would be no trial.

Irish Independent

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