Shane Lucas killed a man outside a country Victorian pub with three drunken coward punches and walked away.
He has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of 40-year-old David Blake at the Farmers Arms Hotel at Creswick in November 2019.
Lucas, 42, had been on a Tinder date and was “bouncing around like a complete fool” when he knocked Mr Blake unconscious and caused him to hit his head on the concrete.
Bystanders tried to revive the much-loved plasterer, known as “Tender” because of his gentle nature, but he died at the scene.
Lucas walked off and handed himself into police hours later.
Mr Blake’s heartbroken family told Victoria’s Supreme Court on Thursday they were consumed by grief, anger and helplessness.
“This is like someone has ripped my heart out,” the slain man’s eldest brother, Trevor, said in a statement.
“Everywhere I go, people give me advice that time heals; it does not.”
Another sibling, Tamara Brand, told the court she sometimes wished she had died instead.
Mr Blake had been chatting happily outside the pub early in the morning when Lucas suddenly became agitated.
“Don’t speak about my mate like that,” he said, throwing three punches. Both men had been drinking heavily.
CCTV showed Lucas “bouncing around like a complete fool” and “as if he thinks he’s Muhammad Ali”, Judge Michael Croucher said.
He said Lucas behaved “like a complete dill and disgrace to himself” standing over Mr Blake, who was 196cm, as he lay motionless on the ground.
It’s not suggested Lucas knew he’d killed the man, and he appeared to be waiting for Mr Blake to get up.
A bystander called Lucas a coward.
He wandered away and into a Ballarat police station hours later, wanting to know why police were at his house.
Mr Blake’s family pleaded with the judge not to release footage of the attack, saying this would traumatise them further.
Justice Croucher said the “horrible” incident illustrated “just how vulnerable humans are to a punch to the head”.
There was no animosity between the two men in the lead up to the attack. It remains unclear what sparked Lucas’ outburst.
Lucas was at the pub with a woman who had previously matched on Tinder with Mr Blake.
But there was no disagreement or jealously, and it’s not suggested this had anything to do with the attack.
Lucas will return to court on January 19 for a further pre-sentence hearing.
Australian Associated Press