A Melbourne man has pleaded guilty to the murder of Irish backpacker David Greene in a St Kilda boarding house last August.
Luke James Wentholt, 31, appeared in the Supreme Court via video link from prison today (Wednesday) and pleaded guilty to the murder of the 30-year-old bricklayer, who grew up in Co Wicklow.
He also pleaded guilty to one count of recklessly causing serious injury to Irishman David Byas, 28, who spent six weeks in hospital recovering after the incident in a St Kilda boarding house. Mr Wentholt was remanded for a plea in mitigation hearing on July 30.
The Age reports Australian Irish Welfare Bureau administrator Marion O’Hagan was in court with two of Mr Greene’s friends and said that his family continue to suffer.
Outside court she said that the death has been devastating for both his family and friends – and added that Mr Byas has returned home to Ireland but is struggling.
Mr Greene died in September after sustaining head injuries in the incident on August 26. His parents and two brothers were by his bedside when his life support machine was turned off on September 6 and he passed away just after 3am the next day in the Alfred Hospital.
He grew up in both Co Wicklow and Cabinteely in Dublin and decided to move to Australia in 2011 because of the recession.
He spent time in Perth at first and then moved to Melbourne in January of last year where he became manager of the Lynedoch Avenue boarding house. He became friends with Mr Byas at the boarding house.
The court was previously told that Mr Wentholt was drunk on the night of the incident and that he had been showing off Karate and Jiu Jitsu moves. At the time he had been training in Jiu Jitsu up to five times a week.
The court heard that he repeatedly stomped on the heads of the two Irishmen and Mr Wentholt’s former girlfriend Shayla Pullen said she believed it started when Mr Greene joked about seeing her breast days earlier.
The court heard Mr Wentholt told Mr Greene he wanted to see him outside and Ms Pullen rushed out when she heard smashing sounds from the hallway. The court also heard she saw a shirtless and shoeless Mr Wentholt while the two men were lying still on the floor.
“I got up and opened the door and saw the two Daves were lying on the floor. There was blood everywhere,” she said in her police statement.
“I don’t remember Luke hitting them with anything, he was mostly just stomping on their heads with his foot…I yelled, ‘Look what you’ve done’.
“He had an evil look and stared straight at me.”
Last month, Mr Greene’s grieving mother Catherine spoke about her heartbreak in court documents and revealed that she always told her son to walk away from trouble.
“I had a great relationship with Davey. He was incredibly soft and I always tried to toughen him up and explain not all people were good like him. He never got into any trouble,” she said.
“I always told Davey to walk away from trouble. Davey was more likely to cry if he was confronted.”
Ms Greene recalled how popular her son was amongst his friends and that when he was younger she tried to toughen him up by bringing him to karate lessons.
“People loved Davey, he was something special. After he passed away there were thousands of messages from friends on Facebook for him,” she said.
“If you told Davey something was lovely, he’d just give it to you. Out of my three boys, Davey was the kindest.
“I remember Aidan (her husband) and I tried to toughen him up as a child. When he was six years old we took him to karate lessons. The first time, he was put up against a short little fat boy, and he wouldn’t hit him. He was too upset for the other boy.”