Three men whose torture led a teenager to fall to his death from a Gold Coast balcony have been jailed for between eight and nine-and-a-half years for their “awful” crime.
Cian English, 19, died while trying to escape the men in a Surfers Paradise apartment in the early hours of May 23, 2020 after they wrongly accused him of stealing drugs and stabbed him with a knife.
Jason Ryan Knowles, 25, Lachlan Paul Soper-Lagas, 21 and Hayden Paul Kratzmann, 23 were originally charged with murder but this week each pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
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Queensland Supreme Court Chief Justice Helen Bowskill said it was an absolutely tragic case.
“Mr English’s family and friends have suffered unfathomable grief and pain compounded by the awful circumstances,” Bowskill said.
Cian English died after falling from a balcony. Credit: 7NEWS
English had joined the group the previous evening after they started partying in the apartment above his own and might have been trying to climb back down to his own accommodation before his fatal fall.
Bowskill said all three men were responsible for threatening, headbutting and stabbing English regardless of their individual acts.
“Your drug-fuelled irrationality and aggression resulted in the death of a human being,” Bowskill said.
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The three men decided to do nothing after English fell except for Kratzmann who called triple-0 with a stolen phone and gave unhelpful information.
“None of you showed any remorse at the time of offending … nearly three-and-a-half years later you all bitterly regret your actions,” Bowskill said.
Soper-Lagas’s barrister said he had experienced his client’s regret and remorse first-hand and noted he had tried to pull back one of the co-defendants as he was assaulting English.
“The last thing he sees at night is the face of Mr English and it’s the first thing he sees in the morning,” the barrister said.
Knowles, left, Soper-Lagas, centre, and Kratzmann, right. Credit: 7NEWS
Crown prosecutor Caroline Marco had called for the men to serve 11 years in jail over English’s death as well as charges of torture, armed robbery in company and stealing.
“(The defendants) indirectly killed Mr English by the intensity of the interaction … he felt the need to escape to preserve himself,” Marco said.
Knowles’s barrister said earlier that his client had PTSD from abuse as a child, was disgusted by his own behaviour and had written to English’s family to apologise.
“I hope one day yous (sic) can forgive me,” Knowles wrote in the letter.
Cian English died after falling from a balcony of the Surfers Paradise unit complex. Credit: 7NEWS
Kratzmann’s barrister Tim Ryan had said his client’s guilty plea could only be recognised via a reduction in his sentence to nine years.
Bowskill sentenced Knowles and Kratzmann to nine-and-a half years due to their greater involvement in assaulting English, with eligibility for parole after six years.
Soper-Lagas was sentenced to eight years with parole after three years and three months.
Bowskill declined the prosecutors’ request to declare the men serious violent offenders and require them to serve 80 per cent of their sentences due to their young age.
All three will be eligible for parole in the first half of 2026 due to time served.
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