02:32 | 26th April 2019

News: World

Thu 30 Jun, 2011
By Sam Bristowe

The dropping of an 8kg object onto the head of a totally defenceless man lying on the ground in a wounded state was an act of absolute brutality

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Melbourne man jailed for killing gay housemate

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A Melbourne man who dropped an 8kg concrete platypus on his gay housemate as he bashed him to death has been jailed.

Aaron James Johnstone, 29, said he lost control after his housemate, Phillip Higgins, 46, made sexual advances towards him in September 2006.

He told police he kicked and punched Mr Higgins before dropping the platypus statue on him. He also struck him with a chair.

Johnstone was sentenced to 18 years' jail with a minimum term of 14 years at the Victorian Supreme Court on Thursday.

Judge Robert Osborn said both men were affected by alcohol on the night and Johnstone dropped the statue on his victim's head after he had already subjected him to a brutal bashing.

"The dropping of an 8kg object onto the head of a totally defenceless man lying on the ground in a wounded state was an act of absolute brutality," he said.

Thursday's sentence comes after a retrial where a jury found him guilty of murder.

In March, the Victorian Court of Appeal ordered the retrial after it found errors in the directions given to the jury.

Justice Osborn said Mr Higgins' injuries, which included six broken ribs and a battered face, were horrific.

The court heard Johnstone moved into the rented flat of Mr Higgins and was his friend for some years.

"Your attack was a savage betrayal of his trust and generosity," Justice Osborn said.

The judge said he took into account that Johnstone was affected by alcohol at the time of the bashing, his conduct was followed by some degree of remorse and he was relatively co-operative with police.

Justice Osborn said Mr Higgins, a disability pensioner, was described to the court as having a kindly and generous nature and his bloody and violent death had a deep impact on his family.

"Phillip Higgins' family has lost a dearly loved member in circumstances which will leave them with a permanent sense of overwhelming hurt and loss," he said.


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