Sentence rings hollow

TWENTY-nine year-old Moe resident Evan Hugh Rudd was just showing signs of turning his life around when he was murdered over a car park dispute at a block of flats in Moe about two years ago.

Speaking to the media after the sentencing of Newborough man Richard Stephen Devries in the Melbourne Supreme Court, Evan’s father, Evan Rudd Senior, said his son was a “good person who had a few social issues”, showing signs of “coming back to a normal life” when he was brutally stabbed to death in February 2011.

Thirty-eight year-old Devries was sentenced to a minimum prison sentence of 24 years for the murder of Evan Rudd and the manslaughter of 29 year-old Roy Theodore Poole, by Justice Lex Lasry yesterday.

The total effective sentence handed down was 31 years’ imprisonment; Devries was sentenced to 24 years for the murder of Evan and 13 years for the manslaughter of Mr Poole.

At the time of committing the offences, Devries was on parole for recklessly causing serious injury at the Fulham Prison in 2003.

Friends and family members of both deceased men were present in the Latrobe Valley Magistrates Court where they heard the sentence being handed down via videolink.

Tears flowed and the mood was sombre at the conclusion of the sentencing, which followed a two-week trial in June this year.

There had been several attempts to complete Devries’ trial, which saw local juries being dismissed twice prior the trial recommencing in Melbourne.

When asked how he felt about Devries’ sentence, Mr Rudd said it “did not sit well” with him.

“These were two young blokes who had a lot to live for; it’s devastating they’re gone, and there is just a hole in our lives,” Mr Rudd said.

“The other day I saw someone who looked just like Evan down the street, down to the little bald patch on the back of his head, and I just sunk… I’m still seeing him everywhere.”

Mr Rudd said it had been a difficult time for his family, with them finding it hard to adjust to losing Evan.

“We used to go fishing, and I would run him around because he didn’t have a driver’s licence… it’s the little things you don’t take notice of (that you miss the most),” he said.

“He’s missed real bad.”

In handing down Devries’ sentence, Justice Lasry said he had committed a “futile, violent and mindless” crime, and by the time Devries had stabbed the men, his actions were unprovoked.

“Your prior convictions combined with these two very serious offences indicate to me that you have a low prospect of any meaningful rehabilitation,” Justice Lasry said.

“Your conduct is to be condemned and the community is entitled to be protected from you.”

The court heard of how 38 year-old Devries had stabbed the two men in a burst of anger after finding his car blocked in by a vehicle belonging to Mr Poole at the flats in High Street on 18 February 2011.

Devries had been drinking alcohol heavily at Leggies Hotel and the Turfside Tabaret with his friend Stephen Turner, who also lived at a unit there.

When he realised his car was blocked in, Devries became verbally abusive.

He was then approached by another resident, Rodney Havis, who had been with Evan and Mr Poole in another unit.

Mr Havis was initially in possession of a sharpening steel but dropped this before punching Devries.

Devries then got in his vehicle while Mr Poole’s car was being moved.

Devries then drove to where Evan and Mr Havis were.

Evan tried to prevent an “obviously armed” Devries from exiting his vehicle.

Devries stabbed Evan in the chest and when Mr Poole tried to intervene he was also stabbed.

Both men were unarmed.

Justice Lasry said the offences were “almost beyond belief” in some respects, that two men had lost their lives over a minor issue about car parking.

“I have no doubt the community is, or would be, appalled by this utterly pointless and avoidable loss of two young lives,” he said.

The court heard Devries, an unskilled labourer, had been in the adult penal system from the age of 17.

He had about 80 convictions, many of which involved violence and dishonesty, from 19 court appearances over the past 21 years.