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Family of St Kilda stabbing victim call for justice

Yohana Apai was preparing for university and planned to marry and have children when his life was cut short.

The 24-year-old died after being stabbed by Duldong Majiok Deng at St Kilda beach in October 2021.

Deng, who has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, faced a pre-sentence hearing at the Supreme Court on Thursday where Mr Apai's family and friends called for justice.

"His plan was to fly overseas, meet his partner and have a family," his brother Luwis Apai told the court.

"I was waiting for COVID lockdowns to stop so I could see my brother and family again, but Duldong Deng cut his life short."

He said he had watched CCTV footage of Deng "intimidating" and then stabbing his brother many times.

"If justice was in my hands, I'd want the same for Duldong Deng, or eternal life in prison," he said.

Mr Apai's childhood friend Ethan Zagorc said he was killed in a "senseless act of violence that has robbed us of a valuable and inspirational human being".

"Yohana was struck down in a targeted attack that robbed him of his life and freedom," he said.

"His kind and compassionate nature was felt by all who knew him, we will never be the same after losing Yohana, but we must carry on with our lives in the hope that one day those who took his life will be brought to justice."

Mr Apai was at the beach alone when he came into contact with Deng and his friends on the evening of October 27.

The pair threw punches at each other outside a toilet block and Mr Apai tried to run away but Deng followed him, pulled out a knife and stabbed him once in the stomach near Marine Parade.

Mr Apai clutched his stomach, stumbled off the road and collapsed. He died in hospital the following day.

Deng's lawyer Julia Munster said her client admits he was aggressive but said her client was not the only aggressor.

"Mr Deng is more aggressive but it's an altercation rather than an attack," she told the court.

"This is not one aggressor against someone who is not participating in this altercation."