4 November 2023

Attacker who went 'on the run' after Latham shops beating given years in jail

| Albert McKnight
still from footage of an attack in a shop

The attack inside the Latham shop on 4 September, 2020, was captured on CCTV. Photo: Screenshot.

A man who fled Canberra to avoid being arrested for a brutal beating at the Latham shops has been sentenced to years in jail.

George Dritsas, 54, pleaded guilty to a charge of recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm before he was sentenced by the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday (31 October).

In August 2020, the victim broke into Jamie Stewart Kinsela’s home in Spence and stole 280 grams of cannabis and one litre of cannabis-infused vegetable glycerine.

Kinsela found out and he and Dritsas started sending threatening messages to the victim.

On 4 September 2020, the two saw their victim at an oval and began chasing him. The man ran into a shop in Latham and asked its owner to call police, but Dritsas arrived and punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground, then kicked and stomped on him.

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The shop owner left the store, saw Kinsela and asked him to call police, but he refused and told the owner about the burglary at his home.

“Well, just get him out of my shop. I don’t want any of this in my shop,” the owner said.

Kinsela dragged the victim out of the store and he and Dritsas continued to assault him, including stomping on him and kicking him in the face, before trying to shove him into the tray of their ute.

While they were doing so, Dritsas told the victim not to get blood on the car, saying, “The more mess you make, the more we’re going to hurt you”.

They stopped when they were approached by a resident who lived nearby, who said, “What are you doing? What is going on? I’ve got children here”.

Kinsela yelled at the victim to “get out of Canberra” before he and Dritsas drove away.

While the victim was being taken to hospital, his lung collapsed, requiring potentially life-saving surgery.

Kinsela, then aged 50, pleaded guilty to charges of recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm and theft in 2021 before he was sentenced to two years and 10 months’ jail, which was suspended in January 2022 after he served one year and four months.

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In her sentencing remarks for Dritsas, Justice Louise Taylor said the offending was in broad daylight and, at least initially, occurred in a shop where the operator of the business was in clear view.

“The offenders appear unperturbed by these factors and persist with the assault,” she said.

She also said the offending was motivated by revenge.

Justice Taylor said Dritsas left Canberra after the offending to avoid arrest, then returned in April 2023 and reported himself to police to deal with any outstanding matters.

The painter described being “on the run” for so long that he lost contact with many friends.

He was convicted and sentenced to a total of three years and 10 months’ jail, with a two-year and one-month non-parole period, which means he can be released from custody in November 2025.

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