Airbnb party brawl ’highly dangerous’

Mobile footage of Gatwech Pal holding a knife during the melee.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Six youths from the South East have faced sentence for their part in a “highly dangerous” armed brawl in a lift in a CBD apartment high-rise.

Their large group attacked young men in the lift at a 19th birthday party in a Spencer Street apartment hired from the Airbnb app.

During the melee in the early hours of Monday 8 March, there were “waves” of attacks in which several males were sliced by knives as well as punched and kicked.

One of the offenders was critically injured after being slashed several times to the torso.

Three victims were treated in hospital, including a man whose hand was sliced eight centimetres deep.

“The conduct of all of those involved was deplorable,” County Court of Victoria judge Richard Maidment said in sentencing on 10 November.

“You all were extremely fortunate that none of you were killed or suffered serious long-term injuries.

“Indeed you should also consider yourselves fortunate no one else was killed by your collective offending.”

It was a “highly dangerous, violent” confrontation, Judge Maidment said.

“With some of you using knives you could all easily have been facing a charge of murder.”

Keak Diu, 20, of Langwarrin, Taban Kor, 20, of Dandenong North, Moses Laula, 20, of Doveton, Samer Nimir, 18, of Dandenong North, and Gatwech Pal, 19, of Clyde North, pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to violent disorder.

Laula and Pal were further charged with being armed with criminal intent, Diu with possession of a controlled weapon.

Goch Akok, 20, of Dandenong pleaded guilty to affray.

None of the victims or offenders except Kor gave a statement to police. Several of them gave false stories of being jumped while walking in Hoppers Crossing.

Several knives and blood-stained areas were found at the scene.

Police evidence was collected from CCTV footage, as well as mobile phone videos that show an armed Pal and Laula stabbing at the group in the lift.

The person who shot the videos are heard chanting “NGS” – which stands for the gang Next Gen Shooters, Judge Maidment said. He made no findings on whether the offenders were part of NGS.

Another person is heard repeatedly yelling: “Stab them.”

“It was calculated to terrify any law-abiding citizen who might have been caught up in or witnessed the incident,” Judge Maidment said of the attack.

“The volume and aggression in the voices of those involved in the melee would have echoed through the building.”

The judge noted his sentences must also strike a balance with the offenders’ young ages and prospects for rehabilitation.

“I wish all the offenders well for the future of their rehabilitation and hopefully all of you will make fine citizens in due course.”

Diu was jailed for 243 days – already served – plus an 18-month community corrections order.

Namir was jailed for 32 days – already served – with a 20-month CCO, including up to 180 hours of unpaid work.

Pal and Laula were respectively detained for a further 10 months, 24 days and 12 months on top of their current sentences in a youth justice centre.

Kor will perform up to 120 hours of unpaid work as part of an 18-month CCO.

Akok was put on an 18-month CCO, including up to 70 hours’ community work.