Sentence halved for Vic landlord killer

Karen Sweeney
A Melbourne man has had his murder conviction downgraded to manslaughter and his sentence halved

A Victorian man who killed his landlord has had his jail sentence halved on appeal.

Refat Demirel suffered 38 rib fractures and died from acute blood loss three years ago, but the exact cause of his injuries remains a mystery.

Alexander Astbury was sentenced to 18 years behind bars for murdering Mr Demirel in Coburg in February 2017.

Victoria's Court of Appeal on Thursday re-sentenced him to nine years' jail for the lesser offence of manslaughter, and ordered he be eligible for parole after serving six years.

An expert found despite Mr Demirel's significant internal injuries, there were few external signs of force.

An expert said it was maybe one but more likely two or three blows to the chest that caused Mr Demirel's fatal injuries, but the exact method was unclear.

Prosecutors suggested it may have been stomps, kicks or being jumped on, but Astbury said he and his 73-year-old landlord both fell during a scuffle.

Astbury had offered to plead guilty to manslaughter twice before his 2018 trial.

Three appeal judges on Thursday said Astbury's offending was serious.

He was substantially larger, stronger and 30 years younger than Mr Demirel when he inflicted one or more blows with significant force.

But they found it was important to note that he had no priors, was remorseful and his moral culpability was significantly reduced by his mental impairment.

Astbury has already served more than three years of his sentence.