Man jailed for 18 years for killing Irish backpacker in Melbourne

Luke Wentholt behaved like ‘crazy monster’ when he killed David Greene


A martial arts expert who stomped on the heads of two Irish backpackers, killing one of them, during a party at a boarding house in the Melbourne suburb of st Kilda has been jailed for 18 years and six months.

Supreme Court Justice Terry Forrest said Luke Wentholt (31) had behaved, according to one witness, like a ‘‘crazy monster’’.

Wentholt, who had previously been jailed for beating up and robbing a prostitute, pleaded guilty to the murder of David Greene (30) and one count of recklessly causing serious injury to David Byas (29).

Wentholt had been drinking beer, vodka, whiskey and smoking cannabis, and was showing off karate and ju-jitsu moves before repeatedly kicking and stomping on the heads of Mr Greene and Mr Byas at the boarding house on August 26th last year.

Mr Greene died in The Alfred hospital on September 7th.

Justice Forrest said Wentholt’s criminal history dated back 13 years and involved prior convictions for assault in Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland.

‘‘You have led a violent adult life with little regard to the rule of law and well-being of others,’’ the judge said.

‘‘I regard the need to deter you and to protect others from you as relevant factors in this sentencing exercise.’’

Justice Forrest said he had listened to and read the victim impact statements from Mr Greene’s grieving family and friends.

Vision from the courtroom and the judge’s comments were live-streamed over the internet to a private home in Dublin for Mr Greene’s family.

‘‘David Greene’s family has lost a much loved young man,’’ the judge said.

‘‘Their grief is compounded by the mindless violence that accompanied his death.

‘‘His death was unprovoked and totally unnecessary.’’

Wentholt was jailed for 18 years and six months with a non-parole period of 15 years.

He showed no emotion as he was being led away by security guards.

Justice Forrest said Wentholt had consumed a considerable quantity of alcohol on the night and ‘’this may go some wya to explaining your outrageously violent conduct but does not excuse it any meaningful way’’.

The judge said Wentholt’s parents had separated when he was a baby and he was placed in Western Australian State-run youth hostels from about the age of 12 where he was repeatedly physically and emotionally abused.

It had been about 1am on August 26th last year when Wentholt told Mr Greene he wanted to speak to him outside. Mr Greene had been joking about walking in on Wentholt’s then girlfriend, Shayla Pullen, days earlier when she was naked in Wentholt’s bed and saw her breast.

Party guests heard raised voices and loud banging noises before Mr Greene and Mr Byas were found lying unconscious on the hallway floor.

Ms Pullen, in her police statement, said: ‘‘There was blood everywhere.’’

She yelled “What the f--- are you doing?” to the bare-chested and barefooted Wentholt when she saw him stomp on Mr Greene’s head.

Mr Greene, a bricklayer, had travelled to Australia in January 2011 for a better life because of the recession in Ireland and spent some time in Perth before moving to Melbourne in January last year.

He became manager at the Lynedoch Avenue boarding house, making sure the property was clean and collecting rent from tenants.

Mr Green’s parents and their two other sons were by David’s bedside when his life support machine was turned off at 8pm on September 6th. He died at 3.05am the next day.

His mother, Catherine, described in her victim impact statement how she could not imagine ever being happy again after her son’s death.

Mrs Greene said she would never forgive Wentholt for what he had done.

And David’s father, Aidan, said he would always feel guilty for loaning his son the money to come to Australia.

Mr Byas, who was in an induced coma for five days before spending more than six weeks recovering in hospital, is expected to make a full recovery after returning to Ireland but has not yet been able to return to work as an electrician.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Byas said after his release from hospital he tried his hardest to pretend everything was fine and he had not been affected by what had happened.

‘‘As time has gone on I have come to the realisation that it is completely impossible to go through something like this and not be seriously affected,’’ he said.

‘‘This will impact my life forever and there’s no escaping that fact.

‘‘I feel like I will have serious trouble trusting people again.

‘‘I feel like I’ve been sheltered from pure evil my whole life and now that I have been exposed to it, things can never be the same.

‘‘I lost a very close friend in Davie and that completely eats me up inside. And for what?

‘‘I just don’t think it’s fair at all what happened to us. We were the last two people that deserved this and it makes me absolutely furious.’’

Mr Byas said he had been in Australia for about six months before crossing paths with Wentholt and it was the most beautiful country he had ever seen.

‘‘I also met such friendly people over there, some of whom I would consider friends forever.

‘‘Unfortunately now when I think of Australia I just think of evil, heartache and sorrow.’’