Parking dispute leads to 31 years in jail

A Victorian man who fatally stabbed two men during a fight over a car space has been jailed for 31 years, with a judge branding the killings mindless, futile and beyond belief.

Richard Stephen Devries, 38, was on parole after being jailed over another stabbing when he killed Evan Hugh Rudd, 29, and Roy Theodore Poole, 29, in the early hours of February 19 last year.

Devries had been drinking for several hours with a friend at two bars in the Gippsland town of Moe before he visited another friend at a nearby block of units.

When he tried to leave, his car was boxed in by Mr Poole's, leading to an altercation, Justice Lex Lasry said today.

Witness Rodney Havis, who lived with Mr Rudd at the flats, told the trial he heard Devries yell out "move your ****ing car, move it or I'll smash it up. I'll slash the tyres".

Mr Poole, 29, had replied: "You don't live here, you don't pay rent so just **** off," Mr Havis said.

Mr Havis and Devries then fought in the carpark, with Mr Havis hitting Devries on the jaw and knocking him down, before telling him to leave.

Instead, Devries got in his car and drove alongside Mr Rudd and Mr Havis. When Mr Rudd tried to stop him stepping out to confront the two men, Devries stabbed him in the chest, Justice Lasry said.

Mr Havis described Rudd going limp as Devries appeared to be "punching him all over the chest".

Mr Poole then approached and tried to grab Devries, who responded by fatally stabbing him twice in the upper body, Justice Lasry said.

Devries was found guilty by a Victorian Supreme Court jury in June of the murder of Mr Rudd and the manslaughter of Mr Poole.

Sentencing Devries to 31 years in jail with a minimum non-parole term of 24 years, Justice Lasry said the killings were "terrible crimes" that were "beyond belief".

"They were futile, violent and mindless and by the time you stabbed these men your actions were unprovoked," he said.

"That two men could have lost their lives over some minor issue about car parking brings a new level to my frustration at the willingness of some young men, affected by alcohol, as you were, to use knives to make some futile point resulting in a tragedy."

Mr Poole had become engaged shortly before his death. His fiancee, Clare Walkinshaw, told a pre-sentence hearing she had lost the love of her life.

"I have a constant ache for Roy and our lives together," she said in a victim impact statement.

Devries' defence barrister, Gavan Meredith, said during the trial his client - who has more than 80 prior convictions for offences including armed robbery and recklessly causing injury - maintained he was acting in self defence when he killed Mr Poole and Mr Rudd.

But a jury rejected his defensive homicide argument on both counts.

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