Alex Ioane: Five men charged with murder plead to lesser charges

Lauren FerriNCA NewsWire
Five men changed their pleas on Friday. NSW Police
Camera IconFive men changed their pleas on Friday. NSW Police Credit: Supplied

A man accused of swinging a bat in a crowd during a brawl that led to the death of a teenager at an out-of-control house party in Sydney’s southwest has been involved in “gang-related conduct”, a court has been told.

The man, who can only be known as ET as he was 17 at the time of offending, faced the NSW Supreme Court via audiovisual link on Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to his involvement in a wild brawl that led to the death of 18-year-old Alex Ioane.

Mr Ioane had attended the party at Chester Rd, Ingleburn, in May 2019, advertised on Facebook as a “70th birthday”, with his girlfriend Lynn Lavea before a brawl broke out and spilt onto the street.

He was kicked in the back of the head, forcing him to fall to the ground before he was found by emergency services on the road with serious injuries and was taken to Liverpool Hospital, where he later died.

Five co-accused who were initially accused of murdering the teenager were due to face trial in the NSW Supreme Court, but they all pleaded guilty to lesser charges on Friday.

One of the men pleaded guilty to manslaughter, while the four co-accused entered guilty pleas to a charge of affray.

Two of the men who pleaded guilty to affray, including now 20-year-old ET and 23-year-old Suliasi Taumalolo, faced the Supreme Court again on Wednesday to fight to be released on bail.

A Crown prosecutor told the court that ET had been involved in “gang-related conduct” when he was charged with an offence of riot in 2019.

“In the context of a larger group of males making a rap video for Official 046 in Claymore, I would submit that would be described as gang-related conduct,” the prosecutor said.

The court was told that ET has been in custody on remand for two years and three months and had a job waiting for him if he were to be granted bail.

Judge David Davies told the court that ET was “actively involved” in the affray.

“He arrived at the party in response to a phone call he received from a person saying ‘Come ASAP because Funu’s going to have a go with some guys from Cabra (Cabramatta)’,” Judge Davies said.

“He took a baseball bat from the boot of one of the vehicles and started swinging the baseball bat around in the crowd saying ‘who wants it, who’s next? Claymore on top’.”

Judge Davies told the court the reference to the suburb of Claymore was because ET was a member of a gang known as the “Claymore Boys”.

According to the agreed facts, ET did not hit Mr Ioane during the melee.

The judge told the court that ET’s criminal history was minimal due to his age and he might not be sentenced to a term of imprisonment longer than what he’d already served while on remand.

Judge Davies granted bail but issued a warning to the 20-year-old, telling him he would “return to custody” if he committed any further offences.

Taumalolo’s defence barrister, Nicole Carroll, told the court that the 23-year-old had been working in concreting while he was in custody on remand.

Ingleburn Bashing
Camera IconFlowers placed next to the road where Mr Ioane was beaten to death. Richard Dobson Credit: News Corp Australia

However, the court was told that Taumalolo was on bail when he was arrested over his involvement in the affray and had also been in a fight while behind bars.

“In the last 12 months he has certainly taken steps to rehabilitation,” Ms Carroll told the court.

The court was told that Taumalolo was not responsible for Mr Ioane’s death but was involved in the fight that led to it and had punched the teenager in the head during the brawl.

Justice Davies said it was clear the 23-year-old was “part of a joint criminal enterprise where the victim ends up dead”.

“The statement of agreed facts disclose that the applicant … was present at the party and punched the deceased a number of times while the deceased was still standing on his feet,” Justice Davies told the court.

“Shortly after the deceased was struck with a blow that caused him to fall to the road the present applicant moved away from the deceased.”

Justice Davies refused bail, saying he was not persuaded that Taumalolo would be sentenced to a shorter time in custody than he has already served.

Both men will return to court in September for sentencing.

Originally published as Alex Ioane: Five men charged with murder plead to lesser charges

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