Airbnb host admits choking a guest to death over an unpaid $210 bill as he pleaded for his life – but denies murdering him
- Jason Colton, 42, pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter
- He admitted to choking Ramis Jonuzi, 36, because he hadn’t paid a $210 bill
- They were staying in a Airbnb home in Brighton East, Melbourne in October 2017
- Mr Jonuzi was thrown against a wall, punched, choked and dragged outside
Jason Colton admits he choked to death a Melbourne Airbnb guest over an unpaid $210 bill, as the victim pleaded for his life.
But the 42-year-old says he’s guilty of manslaughter, not murder.
Colton pleaded not guilty to the more serious charge in the Victorian Supreme Court on Monday, when prosecutors told a jury he knew his actions were likely to kill or seriously injure his victim.
Ramis Jonuzi (pictured), 36, was punched and choked to death when he didn’t have the money to pay a $210 Airbnb bill
Jason Colton (pictured) pleaded not guilty to murder but says he is guilty of manslaughter as he did not intend to kill Jonuzi
Ramis Jonuzi had been renting a room in the Brighton East home in Melbourne where Colton also lived in October 2017.
He first rented a room for three nights on Airbnb, but agreed with head tenant Craig Levy that he’d stay another week for $210, sharing the leased house with Levy, Colton and Ryan Smart.
But when the week was up on October 28 and the money remained unpaid, Colton confronted Mr Jonuzi, threw him against a wall and choked him with his forearm, crown prosecutor Mark Gibson SC told the jury.
He punched Mr Jonuzi in the face. Unconscious, the victim was carried outside onto the front lawn.
The housemates were also involved in the assault, with Smart holding Mr Jonuzi in a leg lock and Levy taking part in the beating.
Mr Jonuzi (pictured) pleaded with Jason Colton ‘leave me alone’ and was forced to show Colton and the tenants of the property that he had less than $10 in his account
Crying, Mr Jonuzi pleaded “leave me alone” but Colton demanded “get me the money” while forcing Mr Jonuzi to show them he had less than $10 in his account.
Colton took a wrench from Mr Jonuzi’s car and asked Levy to hit the victim with it, but he refused and instead went inside to call police.
The next 10 minutes, between 8.20pm and 8.30pm, are in dispute.
“Colton choked or compressed the neck of Mr Jonuzi, thereby preventing him breathing and Mr Jonuzi has died,” Mr Gibson said.
But defence barrister Justin Hannebery SC said the act of choking, that prosecutors claim was fatal, was not an act that Colton admitted to or that Levy is expected to confirm.
The court heard Craig Levy and Colton punched Jonuzi (pictured) while Ryan Smart held him in a leg lock. They then carried the unconscious victim outside onto the front lawn
It’s in dispute ‘whether that particular choke occurred at all’, Hannebery said.
Colton also denies the allegation he acted with reckless intent, knowing that act was probably going to kill Mr Jonuzi or cause him serious injury.
He told police he only wanted to subdue Mr Jonuzi so he would pass out.
‘You know from the start of this trial that Mr Colton admits being criminally responsible for the death of Mr Jonuzi,’ Mr Hannebery said.
‘He admits manslaughter, not murder.’
The trial before Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth is expected to take several weeks.
Craig Levy (pictured) refused to hit the victim with a wrench from the car and instead went inside to call the police, the court heard
Mr Jonuzi rented a room at the Melbourne home (pictured) for three nights on Airbnb but agreed with head tenant Craig Levy that he’d stay another week for $210
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