A man who inflicted fatal head injuries in a “frenzied, prolonged and vicious” attack on a 56-year-old stranger in a West Australian country town has been jailed for at least 18 years.
Saxon Steele Vitali, 25, punched, kicked and stomped on Glenn Howell during an unrelenting 35-minute assault outside a Kirup cafe on July 14 last year, the WA Supreme Court heard on Thursday.
Mr Howell was placed in an induced coma in hospital and died 11 days later.
The court heard Vitali had abused methamphetamine since the age of 17 and had eased off two years ago when his son was born, but had again taken the drug in the week of the attack.
He was also heavily intoxicated, having attended a party earlier that day.
Mr Howell was also drunk and the men had exchanged angry words, but that could not justify Vitali’s “extraordinary rage” and “senseless and gratuitous violence”, Justice Michael Corboy said.
Vitali chased the victim around his car and followed him to a nearby shop where he pleaded for help, punching and kicking him after he fell to the ground.
Mr Howell crawled under his vehicle in a bid to get away from Vitali, who tried to pull him out by his legs then jumped on the car and threw a tyre at the windscreen.
When Mr Howell emerged, Vitali stomped on his head wearing work boots.
Mr Howell was semi-conscious when a witness rendered first aid.
In the lead-up to the offences, Vitali had been upset by the death of a father-figure and a work colleague, and by the disintegration of his relationship with his partner.
Justice Corboy said it would seem a combination of anger, frustration and the disinhibiting effect of alcohol had led to his explosion of rage.
Vitali couldn’t recall the attack but had a “bad feeling” he’d been involved when he heard about it in the news.
He surrendered himself to police and pleaded guilty to murder.
The families of both men quietly sobbed as the sentence was handed down.
Mr Howell’s sister Linda Gillon told reporters outside court she was satisfied with the sentence and her sibling could now rest in peace.
“I’m grateful that it’s finished.”