Tuesday 16 January 2018

Man admits to murder of Irish backpacker stomped to death

Irish backpacker David Greene who was killed in Australia
Irish backpacker David Greene who was killed in Australia

Norrie Ross

A MARTIAL arts expert has admitted stomping a Dublin backpacker to death and to seriously injuring another Irish man during a horrific attack.

Luke James Wentholt, 31, was due to go to trial for the murder of David Greene, 30, from Cabinteely in Dublin  but changed his plea when he appeared on a prison video link in the Supreme Court of Victoria today .

When the charge of murdering Mr Greene on August 26 in Melbourne last year was read to Wentholt he paused for several seconds and then replied “guilty”.

Wentholt also pleaded guilty to intentionally causing serious injury to Mr Greene’s friend David Byas, 28, during an incident described by a witness as a blood spattered assault by a “crazy monster”.

Prosecutor Mark Rochford SC 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 some time after that date.

Outside court friends of Mr Greene and Mr Byas said they were relieved there would be no trial and thanked the police for bringing Wentholt to justice.

Marion O’Hagan, administrator of the Australian Irish Welfare Bureau, said the Greene family would have some satisfaction from  the guilty plea.

“It’s been horrific. It’s been devastating. There is so much suffering for the family,” Ms O’Hagan said.

“And it’s not just them. It’s their extended family. It’s their friends.

“This situation has just affected so many lives.“

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

Shayla Pullen said a group of friends were drinking at the hostel and Wentholt was very drunk.

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 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.

“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 after the attack.

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

The court heard Wentholt was a jujitsu expert who trained five times a week.

Wentholt, who has an extensive criminal history,  was jailed in Queensland for three and half years in 2009 for an attack on a Chinese prostitute where he beat and robbed his 44-year-old victim and then locked her in a cupboard.

But he was released in February 2011.

Online Editors

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