Sunday 17 November 2019

‘My life is in turmoil at never seeing his beautiful brown eyes’

Mother of Irish backpacker stomped to death makes emotional statement

David Greene
Mourners at the funeral of David Greene (30) last year
Luke James Wentholt play fighting with David Greene Wentholt has pleaded guilty to killing the Irish backpacker in Australia last August

By Norrie Ross.

THE mother of an Irish backpacker who was stomped to death by a “crazy monster”  tearfully told a judge today that she is devastated her beautiful son will never come home.

Catherine Greene described David Greene as “the kindest person you could ever meet” and said shortly before his death his family and friends were all looking forward to him coming home from Australia.

“Now my life is in turmoil (at) never seeing his beautiful brown eyes and amazing smile looking at me ever again,” Mrs Greene said.

Reading from her victim impact statement in a halting voice Mrs Greene told Justice Terry Forrest that David had promised he would hide behind her car and jump out to surprise her when he returned from his travelling.

“God I wish it could still happen but I feel sick to my stomach when I know it won’t,” she said.

“The fear of even going to sleep scares me because I can’t get Davie out of my head. Words cannot express what this has done to me as Davie’s mam. My whole world has turned upside down at the thought of my beautiful Davie never coming home to me, ever.”

Mrs Greene was giving her statement in the Supreme Court of Victoria today where David’s killer, Luke James Wentholt, 31, faced a pre-sentence plea hearing.

Wentholt had previously pleaded guilty to the murder of Mr Greene, 30, of Cabinteely in Dublin, at a backpacker hostel in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda East in August last year.

He also pleaded guilty to recklessly causing serious injury to David Byas, 28, Mr Greene’s Irish friend, during the frenzied unprovoked attack which was fuelled by booze and cannabis.

Prosecutor Mark Rochford SC revealed that Wentholt, a violent repeat offender with convictions dating back to his early teens, had been released from jail less than a year earlier after serving time for attacking and robbing a sex worker.

Mr Rochford said Mr Greene, Mr Byas were at a party in the backpacker hostel with Wentholt and a number of other people when the murder took place.

Wentholt, a jujitsu expert, had been showing off martial arts moves to the party goers but suddenly asked Mr Greene to step outside into a hallway.

Mr Rochford said shortly afterwards witnesses heard banging and raised voices.

Wentholt’s girlfriend Shayla Pullen went to investigate and saw Mr Greene and Mr Byas lying unconscious as the killer stomped on their heads with his bare feet.

Ms Pullen had previously described Wentholt as being like a “crazy monster” and told how the floor and walls were spattered with blood.

Ms Pullen tried to intervene but Wentholt pushed her and said “If you want to f--- him you can f--- him”.

Mr Rochford said Mr Byas was in a coma for four days after the attack and Mr Greene died two weeks later, never having shown any signs he might recover.

Reading from his victim impact statement Mr Greene’s father Aidan told the court it made him angry and sad to think of the evil and cowardly way his son was murdered as he lay unconscious.

He said he thought that having a broken heart was only a myth but now he could not describe the pain.

“It’s like a sick emptiness. I pray to you and my maker that the anger I feel sometimes doesn’t consume my life,” Mr Greene said.

“I feel guilty because I loaned you the money to go to Australia. I cry when the neighbours tell me about the good deeds you have done for them. Cabinteely is not the same without you.”

Mr Rochford said that Mr Byas received significant brain injuries and returned to Ireland but he was expected to make a full recovery physically but not mentally.

Defence barrister Tony Trood told the court that Wentholt had a bad criminal history but said he came from a broken and violent home where he was regularly beaten by his step-father.

Mr Trood said Wentholt had pleaded guilty on the basis that it was a “reckless’ murder and he argued his client should receive a lesser sentence because the killing was not intentional.

Justice Forrest indicated he will sentence Wentholt in late August or early September and said that the hearing will be streamed live to Dublin to enable Mr Greene’s family to hear his remarks.

Outside court today Mrs Greene said she appreciated being able to read her victim impact statement in open court “on behalf of my beautiful son Davie”

“I really hope justice will be done for him,” she said.

She thanked everyone in Australia who had helped her and her husband saying they had been really kind.

Asked how the family was coping Mrs Greene appeared close to tears.

“His two beautiful brothers are broken hearted,” she said.

“We are all broken hearted. His grandmother who is eighty something is broken hearted.

“He’s (Wentholt) ruined a lot of lives in Ireland and we hope he gets what he deserves. I’ll never forgive him for what he’s done. He’s taken away my beautiful son.”

The family will return to Dublin in mid-August.

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