A Melbourne man has admitted to choking an Airbnb guest to death over unpaid rent. Jason Rohan Colton, 42, killed 36-year-old Ramis Jonuzi in October 2017 after Ramis revealed that he was unable to pay an outstanding bill of $210. Now Jason has officially confessed that he’s “criminally responsible” for Ramis’ death. He’s also pleaded not guilty to murder in Victoria’s Supreme Court, however: claiming that he should be charged with manslaughter instead, the ABC reports.
Ramis had been renting a room at a house in Brighton East, where Colton also lived, at the time of the incident. He’d initially booked a room for three nights through Airbnb, but later agreed with head tenant Craig Levy that he'd stay another week for $210. He was sharing the leased house with Craig, Jason, and another man named Ryan Smart.
When the week was up and it came time to leave, Ramis was reportedly unable to pay the money owed and was confronted that night by Jason, who threw him against a wall and choked him with his forearm, according to Fairfax. "Mr Colton knew that his act would probably cause death or really serious injury to Mr Jonuzi," prosecutor Mark Gibson told the jury. The court heard that Jason also checked Ramis’ bank account on his phone and it "showed less than $10." Ramis offered to get in touch with his employer to see when he would be paid, but the three men allegedly assaulted him anyway.
Craig and Ryan held Ramis down while Jason choked and punched him, and Mr Gibson told the court "There was blood spattered all over the place and items of furniture were being pushed around." When Ramis lost consciousness the men dragged him outside into the front yard, where the assault continued. He was "struggling to talk and was trying to scream,” and a neighbour reportedly heard what "sounded like a man [who] was in intense pain." Craig eventually called the police, who arrived at about 8:30pm, but Ramis died a short time later. He was ultimately killed by compression of the neck and blunt force trauma. Jason reportedly told police he only wanted subdue Ramis so that he passed out.
Jason’s defence lawyer, Justin Hannebery QC, admitted that there were few facts to be disputed in the case of Ramis Jonuzi’s death. There was no dispute that Jason "choke[d] Mr Jonuzi, punche[d] Mr Jonuzi, kick[ed] Mr Jonuzi", the lawyer said. "His position is that he is guilty of manslaughter but not murder.”
Mr Hannebery also insisted that the prosecution needed to prove Jason was responsible for the fatal choke that caused Ramis’ death, as he claimed it's in dispute "whether that particular choke occurred at all.”
The trial is expected to take several weeks.
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