Kingston Hotel killer Kerry Kourpanidis is fighting to reduce his sentence for manslaughter. Kourpanidis caused the death of Dalmeny’s Warren Craig Hordpenko after attacking him at the popular Canberra venue.
Last June, the now 37-year-old former tradesman was sentenced to seven years and six months’ jail with a non-parole period of three years and nine months, which meant he could be released from jail in April 2024.
Mr Hordpenko, 44, had been drinking at the hotel on the evening of 5 July 2020. He spoke to Kourpanidis’s daughter, reportedly telling her she was a “good girl” with “perfect eyes” and “perfect lips” and touched her on the face.
Kourpanidis went to his home in Griffith to put his daughter to bed, but he later returned, tackled Mr Hordpenko off a barstool and punched him in the head while saying: “You f–d with my daughter, c–t.”
Paramedics arrived to treat Mr Hordpenko, but he was pronounced dead at the hotel.
“I would not classify the offender’s actions as revenge. Perhaps the distinction is subtle, but in my view, his actions are more consistent with reprisal for the perceived harm caused to his daughter,” ACT Supreme Court’s Justice Michael Elkaim said.
“I agree with the Crown’s condemnation of vigilante conduct.”
Kourpanidis appealed the sentence, which was heard in the ACT Court of Appeal on Tuesday (15 February). His lawyers argued Justice Elkaim erred when setting the original sentence and that it was also manifestly excessive.
Barrister Margaret Jones SC said a pathologist report found Mr Hordpenko died from a tear to an artery at the base of his brain, which was something that could happen from “innocuous” activity.
She also said the pathologist stated these sorts of injuries were very rare and the amount of force used was likely to not be of great magnitude. However, ACT Director of Public Prosecutions Shane Drumgold SC said the pathologist didn’t say an injury of this kind only occurred with minimal force.
Ms Jones said Kourpanidis told his girlfriend he hadn’t hit Mr Hordpenko very hard and there was no evidence of the “force of the blows”.
Stephen Odgers SC argued Justice Elkaim erred by not focusing on Kourpanidis’ state of mind at the time of the attack, saying “an offence may still be provocation … even if there’s a time gap”.
He said Kourpanidis’ conduct was “entirely out of character”, and this suggested he did “lose control” when he saw his victim sitting on the barstool. Also, the act of tackling him off the stool was more consistent with impulsivity and a loss of control than a planned attack.
He said there had been an upsetting incident, Kourpanidis had returned to confront Mr Hordpenko to say how inappropriate he’d been, then when he’d seen him, he had impulsively thrown himself at him.
When taking the circumstances into account, the offending was at the low end of objective seriousness, Mr Odgers said.
Mr Drumgold said there had been several triggers that evening, starting when Kourpanidis and his family left the hotel, and his daughter asked, “Why did he touch me?” and his girlfriend asked him, “Kerry, why didn’t you say something?”
His daughter said she was going to have nightmares after her experience. It took her some time to be put to bed, then his girlfriend burst into tears and told him she would write a letter to Mr Hordpenko to say how inappropriate he had been.
“This snowballing group of emotions is now completely independent of the actions of the victim in this matter,” Mr Drumgold said.
Mr Odgers said while Justice Elkaim stated he agreed “with the Crown’s condemnation of vigilante conduct”, he argued the judge had erred in finding vigilante conduct had been made out.
He said Justice Elkaim found Kourpanidis had gone back to the hotel to confront Mr Hordpenko, but not that he went back intending to attack him. He said Justice Elkaim accepted it was possible that only when he saw his victim did he form the intention to carry out the attack.
“We’re talking seconds,” he said.
“He arrived at the hotel and I think he was gone within 60 seconds.”
Justices David Mossop and Wendy Abraham and Acting Justice Stephen Walmsley have reserved their decision on the appeal.