Sadomasochist and willing slave Henry Rose loved pain but there were times his relationship with his younger master Drew Dax became too violent, even for him.
Mr Rose, 59, who liked to burn himself with cigarettes and have people stomp on his genitals, claimed to have had a deep love for Mr Dax, 44, a talented but troubled artist, but was afraid of him when he would drink too much.
The two men had been together for 28 years in what was described in the Supreme Court as "an extraordinary relationship" until Mr Rose repeatedly stabbed Mr Dax during an argument in the kitchen of their Caulfield home in January 2015.
The men had been living in a master/slave relationship where the timid Mr Rose would do whatever his master ordered.
A jury on Thursday deliberated for just over two hours before finding Mr Rose, who had claimed he killed Mr Dax in self-defence, not guilty of murder and the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Mr Rose mouthed the words, 'Thank you", to the jury as they were discharged.
As Mr Rose was being led from court by security guards, he was jeered by angry family and friends of Mr Dax.
One woman called out, "You know what you did. You stabbed him to death."
Security stopped Mr Dax's family from leaving the courtroom until after Mr Rose had been safely escorted out.
Mr Dax's father, John, and brother, Rob, had sat in court shaking their heads after the verdict was handed down.
Henry Rose arriving at the Supreme Court. Photo: Penny Stephens
Defence barrister Geoffrey Steward had argued Mr Dax's criminal history involved violence towards Mr Rose, including a bizarre devil-worshipping ceremony dating back to 1988.
Mr Dax had been in a trance-like state when claiming to be Satan before slashing Mr Rose across the forehead with a kitchen knife and stabbing him in the right hand.
Mr Steward said Mr Rose had been in fear for his life when he killed Mr Dax, who had a blood alcohol level of 0.2 on the night he died, because he knew his master turned into a monster after drinking to excess.
The Crown case against Mr Rose was that he fatally stabbed the unarmed Mr Dax between 11pm on January 10, 2015, and 3am the next morning.
Mr Rose later told police Mr Dax had threatened to kill him and came at him with a knife.
"He lunged forward but he missed," Mr Rose said.
"I lunged at him. I lunged and I got him. And I panicked. And I don't know how many times I stabbed him. I was just - I was fearing for my life and crying at the same time.
"I lunged with both knives at the same time. I'm pretty sure I got him in the stomach a few times. And I don't know, once or twice in the neck. I don't know."
Crown prosecutor Peter Chadwick told the jury there was no doubt the two men loved each other very much.
Mr Dax had moved into Mr Rose's Caulfield house in 2013 after the older man's parents had passed away and he inherited the Princes Street property.
"They had met when Mr Dax was about 16 and living on the streets and it was not long after that Mr Rose appointed him his master.
Mr Dax, who had changed his name by deed poll from Andrew Barratt, affectionately called Mr Rose his husband and had a painting hanging on his bedroom wall which said, "Henry is my slave".
"But there was something very unusual about this relationship, the master/slave aspect," Mr Chadwick said.
"The state of domination, submission, and the longstanding, deep-seated sadomasochism of Mr Rose. How Mr Rose liked to be hurt."
The prosecutor said Mr Rose liked to self-harm by burning his nipples with cigarettes or cigarette lighters, and had at one time paid Mr Dax $50 to stand on his genitals when wearing football boots.
But Mr Chadwick said while there had been a number of violent incidents, many consensual, involving the couple over the years, there was no excuse for Mr Rose killing Mr Dax.
The prosecutor said Mr Rose had been armed with two knives when he fatally stabbed Mr Dax before placing a knife in Mr Dax's left hand to make it look as if he was armed, supporting Mr Rose's claims he was acting in self-defence.
But the problem for Mr Rose was that he put the knife in the wrong hand given Mr Dax was right-handed.
Mr Steward accepted it was open for the jury to find Mr Rose had planted the knife on Mr Dax but the stabbing had been a "shockingly traumatic incident for Henry" and he simply panicked, fearing his story of self-defence would never be believed.
"We say to you that the suggestion by the Crown that Drew was never armed is absurd. it ignores the almost unfathomable likelihood of Henry Rose inexplicably and thoroughly uncharacteristically stabbing the man he loved so deeply repeatedly while he's unarmed," Mr Steward said.
The jury agreed.