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Men's Shed co-founder stabbed with carving knife, court hears

Date

Mark Russell

One of the co-founders of the Men’s Shed organisation died after being stabbed when sitting in a friend’s front yard, a court has heard.

Stanley Lynch, 71, was stabbed once in the stomach by a neighbour, David Rathbone, at a block of Department of Human Services apartments for the elderly and disabled in Little Ferguson Street, Williamstown. He died eight days later.

Rathbone, 77, pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court on Thursday to one count of manslaughter.

Crown prosecutor Susan Borg said Mr Lynch had been visiting his friend and neighbour, Michael Noonan, on April 2 last year when Rathbone approached the pair and stabbed Mr Lynch with a large carving knife, saying ‘‘That’s for you.’’

The court was told Rathbone, who had never previously been in trouble with the law and had no explanation for stabbing Mr Lynch, had been a nice bloke unless he was drinking.

Justice Paul Coghlan said it would be interesting, given the current debate over domestic violence, to find out how far alcohol abuse went to the heart of the problem.

‘‘It’s a societal problem,’’ the judge said.

‘‘Part of the Australian culture ... perhaps ethos, has been related to saying it’s a good thing to drink and not really a bad thing to drink to excess. We’re very slow learners.’’

Ms Borg said Rathbone returned to his apartment after stabbing Mr Lynch and waited for police.

When police arrived, Rathbone said, ‘‘Yeah, I did it. The knife’s in there.’’

Rathbone could not explain the stabbing and claimed to have no idea why he did what he did. He had not been threatened, intimidated or provoked by Mr Lynch.

In his victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Noonan said Mr Lynch had been a quiet, gentle man who loved reading books and watching British comedies and had been one of the co-founders of the Men’s Shed organisation.

According to the Australian Men’s Shed Association’s website, ‘‘men’s sheds play an important role in the community by providing meeting places where men can find social support and camaraderie’’.

The organisation now has over 1000 sheds representing an estimated 175,000 people. The Men’s Shed concept was an Australian initiative and the idea has now spread internationally with a number of sheds being operated by health authorities in Ireland, England and New Zealand.

Mr Lynch’s sister, Yvonne, in her victim impact statement, said she was devastated and heartbroken her brother’s life had been taken in such a violent way.

Ms Borg said the randomness of the attack on Mr Lynch and the use of a carving knife were a real concern.

‘‘It’s apropos of nothing. He simply walks up and stabs him,’’ the prosecutor said.

Justice Coghlan will sentence Rathbone on April 30.

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