newsCO.com.au | Two men acquitted of Christopher Hatzis 2012 manslaughter outside Light Square nightclub

September 22, 2017

@newsCOflash

2017-09-22 08:45:17

Posted

September 22, 2017 18:45:17

Two of the four men jailed over the death of an Adelaide teenager in a late-night brawl five years ago have been acquitted of manslaughter.

Christopher Hatzis, 19, was repeatedly stabbed with a knife during a fight outside a nightclub in Light Square in August 2012.

Mr Hatzis suffered 14 stab wounds and died despite emergency surgery.

At trial in 2014, 26-year-old David Zefi, 22-year-old Rrok Jakaj, 23-year-old Dario Stakaj and a man who was a youth at the time of the brawl were acquitted of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.

During the trial, the Supreme Court heard Zefi repeatedly stabbed Mr Hatzis, while Jakaj, Stakaj and the youth held him down and kicked and punched him.

But on Friday, South Australia’s Court of Criminal Appeal quashed the manslaughter convictions for Mr Stakaj and the man who was a youth at the time, finding that while they were present at the brawl, the prosecution did not prove they took part in the final assault on Mr Hatzis.

“The conviction of Mr Stakaj cannot be sustained,” Chief Justice Chris Kourakis, Justice Malcolm Blue and Justice David Lovell found.

“The prosecution proved no more than that he was present in Light Square and was actively interested in the events which were occurring there.

“The prosecution case against [the youth] was primarily that he ran into Light Square about two minutes before the stabbing occurred.

“However, the evidence also established that he left Light Square about 30 seconds before David Zefi left it.”

The court also found evidence that Mr Stakaj stood next to a car driven by the youth which was parked in Light Square shortly before the youth was seen to “handle an object that looked like a knife” was circumstantial and tenuous.

Mr Stakaj had been serving a five-year, five-month sentence, while the youth served a three-year term in youth detention.

The Court of Criminal Appeal also ruled to reduce Jakaj’s sentence from five years and three months to just under four years with a non-parole period of two years and nine months.

“In our view given the unusual circumstances of this case it is a matter where the court should intervene and resentence Mr Jakaj giving credit for the subsequent time on home detention bail.”

The court dismissed an appeal by Zefi to reduce his sentence.

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