A Sydney man who was grossly intoxicated with multiple substances when he stabbed his frail "drug buddy" more than 50 times has been found guilty of murder.
Luke Close, 33, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Garry Welsh, 63, at his Nowra unit in February 2018, but guilty to his manslaughter although he had no memory of the stabbing.
The Crown did not accept the plea and on Thursday, after a NSW Supreme Court judge-alone trial, Justice Richard Button found him guilty of the more serious charge.
Mr Welsh sustained 52 stab wounds, multiple cuts, from his neck to his toes, as well as blunt force injuries to his torso.
The trial issue related to Close's intoxication and whether, when he stabbed Mr Welsh, he intended at the least to cause him really serious physical harm.
Mr Welsh was a frail man with drug problems and medical conditions, the most serious of which was emphysema.
He had lived alone for many years in a small apartment but often had visitors.
"Some purported friends and acquaintances were in truth persons - many of them burdened by their own problems with prohibited drugs or alcohol or both - who took advantage of him in various ways," the judge said.
He accepted that Close was grossly intoxicated with alcohol and various drugs before, during and after the homicide and that the fatal acts had "a flavour of frenzy to them".
He also accepted that Close later showed signs of emotional regression and irrationality; and that he is "sincerely amnesic" with regard to the whole tragic event.
"Even so, I am compelled to the firm opinion that his mind was engaged with what he was doing," Justice Button said.
Close had forcefully inserted a knife or knives into "a frail old man, who must have been bleeding copiously as a result" and also inflicted many other injuries by violence.
"In my opinion, the mental element of an intention to cause, at the least, really serious physical injury has been established beyond reasonable doubt."
Close's partner had referred to the men as being "drug buddies" and said Close himself had a serious addiction which included using ice.
The evidence established that in the lead-up to the stabbing he was agitated and angry, the judge said.
"Whilst it is true that the accused had no reason to possess ill feeling against the deceased, and that they were, if anything, friends, I think that the accused was very on edge and easily upset by the time he arrived at the home of the deceased."
His behaviour afterwards had been bizarre, in that he drew attention to himself by screeching, damaging cars, and proceeding up and down the street.
"Even so, in my opinion, there are many signs of the engagement of the mind of the accused with the world around him, very shortly after the homicide."
They included his demanding a neighbour silence her dog, spitting in the face of another neighbour who confronted him and landing punches to the man's torso.
.Close will face a sentence hearing on October 23.
Australian Associated Press