CONTENT WARNING: This article contains graphic footage.
Two men who continued to beat two brothers while they lay defenceless and unconscious in Canberra’s city centre will spend the next year behind bars for the “extremely vicious” attack.
David Samuel Hoyt and William Juan David Rendall, both aged 29, previously pleaded guilty to the brutal assault which hospitalised the brothers with serious concussions.
The younger brother, then aged 19, was unconscious for at least 15 minutes after the Garema Place assault when Hoyt and Rendall both tried to drag their limp bodies away and stomped on their heads.
Hoyt and Rendall had claimed that at the time of the assault, which started at about 1:30 am on 26 January, one of them had been subjected to a racial slur.
But during sentencing on Friday (1 September), Special Magistrate Rebecca Christensen accepted that while racial abuse could be triggering, she said she had “no detail” about what was apparently said and noted Rendall had overall been making “self-serving statements” to police during his interview.
“I do not conclude … the verbal interaction [between the groups] had a racial aspect or that Mr Rendall was racially abused [nor] Mr Hoyt,” she said.
While both men had claimed self-defence in reaction to the alleged racial slur, both had also admitted to police upon watching confronting CCTV footage of the attack that their actions “appeared to be of excessive force” or that it “did not reflect self-defence”.
Special Magistrate Christensen said the video showed the “real savagery of the assaults”.
She described the attack as “extremely vicious”, where the brothers were “savagely beaten” and then were left unconscious on the ground when they “clearly needed medical assistance”.
“This was a callous disregard to the welfare of the victims,” Special Magistrate Christensen said.
“The fact the victims didn’t die was more by chance than design.”
The assault only stopped when a passer-by called out. When police and paramedics arrived, members of the community had moved the brothers into the recovery position.
Special Magistrate Christensen read a victim impact statement from the brothers’ father, who said his sons had been “robbed of the very basic right of freedom to live in peace”.
“Our happy and healthy family life has been shattered forever,” he wrote to the court.
“[I can’t comprehend] how someone could so brutally attack [my] sons.”
Special Magistrate Christensen noted that Rendall had been diagnosed with several mental health conditions, including ADHD and alcohol use disorder, and agreed he probably had a degree of reduced moral culpability at the time of the attack.
This meant the sentence she would impose on both men would differ slightly.
However, she said Rendall wouldn’t get a “free pass” as a result of his previous mental challenges.
Both men had been assessed as eligible for an intensive corrective order, but Special Magistrate Christensen said she did not feel this was adequate punishment for the attack, nor would it address their conduct.
Hoyt was sentenced to three years and two months of imprisonment, with a non-parole period of one year and 11 months.
He will be eligible for parole on 31 July 2025.
Rendall was sentenced to three years and two months behind bars, with a non-parole period of one year and six months.
The earliest time he can apply for parole is 28 February 2025.