A Supreme Court judge has sentenced a teenager to three years in a youth justice centre for his "cowardly and disgusting" behaviour in an ultimately fatal attack on a disabled Maryborough man.
The 19-year-old pleaded guilty last month to recklessly causing serious injury and home invasion in relation to his role in the assault of John Bourke on July 15, 2018.
Another boy, aged 15 at the time of the attack, was found guilty earlier this year of the murder of Mr Bourke.
In July 2018, the two boys left a party and went to Mr Bourke's Derby Road home.
The 15-year-old wanted to confront a man who had allegedly sexually assaulted a close friend.
"Tragically for Mr Bourke, the two of you went to the wrong house," Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth said.
Read more: Teen pleads guilty to role in fatal attack
The younger boy kicked in the front door of Mr Bourke's home and began assaulting him when he came to the door on crutches.
The older boy, then aged 17, punched the 45-year-old twice in the head - once after he had fallen to the ground inside his home - and stomped on his leg between two and four times, fracturing his femur.
The 15-year-old continued to attack Mr Bourke, even after his older friend tried to stop him, and inflicted the injuries that killed him.
The prosecution accepted the older boy was not complicit in causing the fatal injuries.
Mr Bourke had osteogenesis imperfecta, or 'brittle bone disease', which left him highly susceptible to fractures - over the course of his life, he suffered about 400 broken bones.
At the time of his death, he needed crutches to walk and used a mobility scooter.
Following a trial earlier this year, a jury acquitted the 19-year-old of murder but could not reach a verdict on the alternative of manslaughter.
He was due to face another trial for manslaughter, but the charge was dropped in August after the teenager agreed to plead guilty to recklessly causing serious injury and home invasion.
In sentencing, Justice Hollingworth said it was not disputed that this was a serious example of home invasion, due to the fact it took place in the middle of the night, the door was kicked in, and the teenager intended to commit an assault on a stranger in a vigilante-style attack.
"Although your moral culpability is significantly less than [your co-offender's], it must have been obvious to you (even in your intoxicated state) that you were attacking a slightly-built, disabled man, who was only 133 centimetres tall," she said.
"It must also have been obvious that he was utterly defenceless against an attack by two physically fit teenagers.
"The two of you kept going, even as he called out for you to stop the assault.
"The behaviour of you both was cowardly and disgusting."
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Justice Hollingworth made note of the impact Mr Bourke's death had had on his family, with whom he was close.
She spoke of how Mr Bourke's quick wit, his ready smile, and his "kind, loving, genuine, humble nature" made him beloved among friends and family members.
"It is clear that John Bourke was a much-loved person, who inspired many with his courage and stoicism," Justice Hollingworth said.
Justice Hollingworth took the offender's plea as an early one in the circumstances, and accepted that having a murder change hanging over him between July 2018 and March 2020 would have been burdensome.
She also accepted, based on his plea and reports from friends, family members and youth justice workers, that the teenager was genuinely remorseful.
It was noted that he was cooperative with police and made admissions to his offending when interviewed.
While in custody, Justice Hollingworth said, the teenager had completed his intermediate VCAL and been a member of the youth justice centre's youth leadership council.
She said the offender's prospects of rehabilitation were reasonably good, but were dependent on him avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, illicit drugs and negative peer associations.
The teenager's defence counsel submitted he be sentenced to time already served, but Justice Hollingworth did not agree due to the seriousness of the offending and that within a few months of release on bail, he began abusing drugs and alcohol.
"Your rehabilitation will be promoted by a further period of supervision by Youth Justice," the judge said.
Being a child at the time of the offence, the maximum sentence the offender could receive under a youth justice order was four years' detention.
He was sentenced to three years' detention in a youth justice centre, and had already served 736 days, a little over two years.
But for the teenager's guilty plea, Justice Hollingworth said, he would have been sentenced to four years' detention.
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