4 June 2021

Kingston Hotel killer eligible for release in April 2024

| Albert McKnight
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Man who died at the Kingston Hotel.

Warren Hordpenko died after he was attacked at the Kingston Hotel. Photo: Supplied.

The tradesman who killed a man at the Kingston Hotel will walk free from jail in about three years’ time after he was sentenced on Thursday (3 June).

Warren Craig Hordpenko, 44, began drinking at the hotel on the evening of 5 July 2020, before Kerry Kourpanidis, 36, later arrived with his family and young daughter for dinner.

Over the evening, Mr Hordpenko became drunk, and another patron reported his behaviour to hotel staff who eventually told him to leave, but he did not.

At one point, 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.

“But I can tell the one thing I hate about you, I hate your nostrils,” he reportedly said to her.

This caused the tradesman’s family to get up and leave the hotel.

“Kerry, why didn’t you say something?” one member told him as they left the building.

“You should have stopped that man from touching her.”

Kourpanidis took his daughter back to his home in Griffith and put her to bed.

At about 9:00 pm, he drove back to the hotel, went inside and found Mr Hordpenko speaking to two men in the pool room, then tackled him off the barstool he was sitting on and onto the floor.

Kourpanidis punched him in the head, hitting it into the wall, and struck him several more times on the head while saying: “You f—–d with my daughter, c–t”.

Mr Hordpenko didn’t fight back or try to defend himself. Kourpanidis was only in the hotel for about 60 seconds, then drove home.

In Justice Michael Elkaim’s judgment, he said the cause of Mr Hordpenko’s death was a vertebral artery dissection, an injury that can be caused by little force, was very rare and could be caused by mundane acts like painting a ceiling or turning the head suddenly.

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On Thursday (3 June), Mr Hordpenko’s family told the ACT Supreme Court about the man he was and the impact his loss had left on them.

“He was my soulmate, my most loving husband for over 20 years, and he’s gone,” his wife Christine Henderson-Hordpenko said.

“He loved making people laugh and making people happy.

“He was the most generous person I have ever met, would give the shirt off his back to a stranger.

“When he died, a huge piece of me died with him.

“You [Mr Hordpenko] will always be my one and only.”

Mr Hordpenko’s father, Robert Hordpenko, said his son was “a people’s person” who had become a sought-after tradesman and inherited his own love of fishing.

“I miss him when fishing alone. I often cry on the beach. God I miss him,” he said.

He said Kourpanidis had taken his son’s life with a “cowardly attack”.

“I hope no coward takes the life of your child the way you took ours,” he told Kourpanidis.

Mr Horpenko’s step-daughters talked about how the man they called their Dad had a huge heart, brought joy to their family and loved to spend time with them as they were growing up.

“He always treated my sisters and I as if we were his own children,” one step-daughter, Sian Henderson, said.

Another, Paige Galway, said Kourpanidis claimed her Dad had made Kourpanidis’s daughter feel uncomfortable, but she found that extremely hard to believe as he had never laid a hand on a child or made her or her siblings feel uncomfortable when they were children.

Mr Hordpenko’s son Saxon also wrote a statement for the court.

“He killed my Dad. My pain is too much. I have no words. I love my Dad so much,” he said.

During the family’s heart-breaking statements, Kourpanidis appeared bored at times, staring straight ahead or at the ceiling.

Kourpanidis’s lawyer, Ken Archer from Burley Griffin Chambers, said Mr Hordpenko’s death resulted from a “chance outcome”, and if the victim were anyone other than his client, he would only have been charged with assault.

He claimed Kourpanidis was “provoked” by how Mr Hordpenko was behaving around his young daughter.

He also argued that Justice Michael Elkaim would be unable to say whether or not Mr Hordpenko had died due to being knocked off the stool or punched on the ground.

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Mr Archer said Kourpanidis’s actions that night were completely at odds with the kind of man he was.

“He’s just a man, a decent man who acted out of character,” he said.

Justice Elkaim said he disagreed that Mr Hordpenko’s death should be based on being pushed off the stool, with the only logical approach being to say the attack caused his death.

While he partially agreed that provocation had an effect on the case, it was not to the degree suggested by Mr Archer and “loses its force with the passage of time”.

He said Kourpanidis took Mr Hordpenko by surprise and his attack on him was short and brutal.

“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,” he said.

Kourpanidis pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Justice Elkaim sentenced him to seven years and six months’ jail with a non-parole period of three years and nine months.

He can be released from jail in April 2024.

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