Australian judge imprisons 2 men for Airbnb guest’s death

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — An Australian judge sentenced two men to prison on Wednesday over the fatal beating of their Airbnb guest who owed rent.

The guest, Ramis Jonuzi, 36, was killed at a rented house in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton East on Oct. 25 last year.

Housemates Ryan Charles Smart, 38, and Craig Jonathon Levy, 37, each pleaded guilty in the Victoria state Supreme Court to his manslaughter after murder charges were downgraded.

Smart must serve a minimum six years of a nine-year sentence. Levy was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison and must serve at least 4 1/2 years.

A third housemate, Jason Colton, will stand trial next year for Jonuzi’s murder. He faces a potential life sentence in prison if convicted.

Jonuzi had been renting a room in the trio’s home through the house-sharing website for a few days and extended his stay to a week. He was asked to leave the day he died after failing to pay 210 Australian dollars ($153) in owed rent, according to prosecution facts accepted by defense lawyers.

An argument erupted about the unpaid money after Jonuzi packed up to leave. Jonuzi was kicked and punched in the living room until he lost consciousness.

Levy helped carry him outside then used a phone to have Jonuzi check his bank balance and confirm it contained just AU$6, before the attack continued. Jonuzi cried and apologized as he was beaten.

“For some of the attack, Mr. Jonuzi was unconscious on the ground, for all of it he was helpless,” Justice Andrew Tinney said.

A preliminary court hearing in May was told that Levy called police to remove Jonuzi from the house, but officers arrived to find Jonuzi lying face down in chocolate cake in the front yard and with blood around his nose and eyes. Police could not revive him.

An autopsy found Jonuzi died from “compression of the neck and blunt-force trauma to the head.”

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