Slain boy’s father hugs prosecutor after guilty verdict
Tara Cosoleto |
A mother has sobbed and a father has hugged a prosecutor outside court after four boys were found guilty of murdering their 16-year-old son in a frenzied street attack.
Declan Cutler was walking alone down a dark street in Melbourne’s north when he was kicked, stomped on and stabbed by a group of eight boys in March 2022.
He had just left a party in Reservoir and became separated from his two friends when a stolen Mazda pulled up alongside him at about 2.30am on March 13.
The group of boys hurtled out of the car and pounced on Declan, stabbing and kicking him as he lay on the nature strip.
The group got back in the car after the two-minute attack and drove off, before returning to stomp on him again and remove his shoes.
Declan bled to death on the ground after suffering 152 injuries, including 56 stab wounds and 66 blunt force injuries.
The entire attack was captured on CCTV.
Victorian Supreme Court Justice Rita Incerti on Friday found four of the attackers – known under the pseudonyms SA, DM, QDM and SY – guilty of Declan’s murder.
“He was alone and unarmed and utterly defenceless,” Justice Incerti told the court.
“The closed circuit footage has no sound but it screams horror.”
Declan’s mother Samantha Cutler broke into sobs as the verdict was handed down, while the four boys remained emotionless.
One of the teens was heard saying “damn bro” as they were removed from the court.
Declan’s father Bryan Beattie missed the brief hearing but was told the verdict by the prosecutor outside court and he hugged her.
At a prior hearing for three other youths accused over the killing, Mr Beattie made an emotional plea for knife crime to stop.
“My son deserves justice, he deserves for his life to have meaning, he deserves for his dad to fight for his name,” he told the court in August.
“We need to make an example of these teens, so that kids across the country drop the weapons.”
Ms Cutler told reporters on Friday she was happy with the verdict but her friend said it wouldn’t bring Declan back.
Justice Incerti will sentence the teens at a later date.
They had pleaded not guilty to the murder, with three of the four claiming they were not at the scene at all.
One of the boys offered a plea to the charge of manslaughter, arguing he participated in the attack but he did not have murderous intent.
The boys went through a month-long judge-alone trial in December before Justice Incerti handed down her guilty verdicts on Friday morning.
Their 13-year-old co-accused walked free from court on September 20 after he was found to be too young to be held criminally responsible for the murder.
Three other members of the group were jailed a week earlier for their roles in the killing.
A 16-year-old boy, who was 14 at the time of the attack, was jailed for up to 15 years after pleading guilty to murder.
Two 18-year-olds, who were 16 when charged, were handed youth detention sentences of three-and-a-half and four years.AAP