Murdered ... Latjor Gatkuoth, who was stabbed to death in the stairwell of the Dandenong Plaza car park. Photo: Penny Stephens
A Victorian judge has questioned whether the cheap price of alcohol is contributing to an alarming trend of excessive drinking by youths of African descent.
In Victoria's Supreme Court on Wednesday Justice Paul Coghlan also likened the alcohol consumption of the youths to problem drinking in Aboriginal communities where many people drank solely to get drunk.
His comments were made at a pre-sentence plea hearing for a 19-year-old Sudanese youth who has pleaded guilty to murdering his friend Latjor Gatkuoth in a stairwell of the Dandenong Plaza car park in September last year.
Gatkuoth, 20, was stabbed multiple times with a broken bottle and fell about four or five metres to the basement level after what the court heard had been an "extreme" drinking session.
The youth who committed the crime, who cannot be identified as he was only 17 at the time, was on bail over alleged assaults when he committed the murder.
It is not known what triggered the attack as he has a history of dissociative episodes, which his parents described as "losing time" or "mental lapses". During such episodes he would have no idea how he got to places, the court heard.
The youth's defence lawyer described the crime as a "senseless, mindless, savage attack" which he said was "indicative of a young man having lost his head".
He said his client was deeply remorseful and ashamed of what he had done.
The pair had come from the same tribal group in Sudan so the consequences of his crime had caused problems between the two families back home.
The court heard the youth had been "born into war and raised with it around him". He was also a victim of racism, threats and physical violence when his family lived in Egypt before settling in Australia in August 2002.
He began drinking at the age of 14 and had a blood alcohol concentration of .39 when he committed the murder.
The court heard it was common for him and his friends to pool together what little money they had each day to buy a slab of beer, casks of wine and bottles of spirits which they then consumed. They often went back to the bottle shop throughout the day to buy more.
His lawyer described the amounts they consumed on a daily basis as "crazy".
Justice Coghlan will sentence the youth at a later date.