Aaron James Johnstone guilty of killing naked gay flatmate Phillip William Higgins
A MAN who bashed his gay housemate to death with items including an 8kg platypus statue has been found guilty of murder for the second time by a Supreme Court jury.
Melbourne man Aaron James Johnstone, 29, subjected Phillip William Higgins, a 46-year-old openly gay man, to a protracted assault involving kicks, punches and the use of an office chair before finally dropping the statue on his victim during the killing in September 2006, the Herald Sun reported.
Johnstone, who appeared to be handling a string or rosary beads in the dock, faces a potential sentence of 18-20 years, the court heard.
The jury had heard Johnstone "lost it" after a drunken Mr Higgins walked naked into the room where Johnstone was and proposed oral sex.
Prosecutor Mark Rochford, SC, had earlier told the court Mr Higgins had a blood alcohol reading of .32 and had suffered a range of injuries including a broken neck and abrasions.
Mr Higgins was found dead, with a pair of underpants beside him, on the floor of the Seaford home the men shared.
Mr Rochford said Johnstone told police Mr Higgins had come out of the bedroom and said he would like to have oral sex with him, at which point an enraged Johnstone hit and kicked his victim before dropping the statue on him.
The Crown said Johnstone either intended to kill or to cause really serious injury during the attack.
But defence lawyer John Desmond argued Johnstone had not intended to kill Mr Higgins and had become angry because Mr Higgins had previously asked him for sex.
Justice Robert Osborn remanded Johnstone in custody and ordered he reappear for a plea hearing next Tuesday.
The Court of Appeal in March ordered Johnstone stand a retrial over the murder of Mr Higgins after he was originally convicted and sentenced more than two years ago to 18 years jail, with a non-parole period of 14 years.
Johnstone had offered to plead guilty to manslaughter but the Crown maintained, despite his own level of intoxication, he was aware of the potential to kill or inflict really serious injury.
The retrial was ordered after an appeal found errors in the prosecution case and the direction given to the jury in the original hearing.
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