Bevan O’Keefe, 25, Kurt Ellis, 28 and Adam Noble, 25, pleaded guilty to engaging in a violent act that caused the death of 19-year-old Anthony Johnston in December 2018.
Bevan O’Keefe, 25, Kurt Ellis, 28 and Adam Noble, 25, pleaded guilty to engaging in a violent act that caused the death of 19-year-old Anthony Johnston in December 2018.

Trio of thugs guilty of beating teenager to death

THREE men who beat a teenager to death during a brawl in Borroloola two Christmases ago have formally admitted to their roles in the "senseless tragedy".

Bevan O'Keefe, 25, Kurt Ellis, 28 and Adam Noble, 25, pleaded guilty to engaging in a violent act that caused the death of 19-year-old Anthony Johnston in December 2018.

The court heard all three men had been drinking on the night in question when they stopped at a house in Garawa Camp One on December 22.

As Anthony and Stephen Johnston walked past the house, O'Keefe and Stephen Johnston had a verbal argument and both men began swinging punches at each other before Stephen Johnston knocked O'Keefe to the ground where he lost consciousness for a short time.

When he came to, O'Keefe's swearing and yelling attracted the attention of Ellis and Noble who came to assist O'Keefe, who was now covered in blood.

The court heard O'Keefe and Ellis then followed Stephen Johnston back to another house where Stephen and Fabian Johnston armed themselves with a whipper snipper and star picket.

During the ensuing melee, rocks were thrown at Noble's house and he came out and he and Ellis joined O'Keefe in assaulting Anthony Johnston.

Noble punched Anthony Johnston to the ground where Ellis and O'Keefe kicked and punched him until he eventually lost consciousness.

Johnston also came to and was taken to the local clinic where his condition deteriorated and he was flown to Royal Darwin Hospital for urgent treatment but succumbed to his injuries on Christmas Day.

O'Keefe's barrister, Suzan Cox QC, said her client had little memory of the night in question due to his level of intoxication and the blow to his head but now felt shame and was determined to quit drinking.

"He knows he had a role in causing the death of someone whom he was related to and whom he liked and whom he respected," she said.

Phillip Boulten SC, for Ellis, said his client was not an instigator of the fracas which became "as if a tinderbox was set alight".

"My client got caught up in the emotions of the moment, affected by alcohol and caught in among a quite large and vociferous group of people," he said.

Noble's barrister, Tom Berkley, said his client had gone home after the initial altercation involving O'Keefe and only punched the victim once before running away.

"(His house) got rocked and he came out and then, your honour, he's dragged into this," he said.

All three will return to court on Thursday.

jason.walls1@news.com.au

 

Originally published as Trio guilty of beating teen to death


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