The parents of an Irish teenager who fell to his death from a fourth-floor balcony in Australia as he tried to flee from three men who were torturing him have expressed their heartbreak their son’s life was stolen from him.
Lachlan Paul Soper-Lagas, 21, Jason Ryan Knowles, 25, and Hayden Paul Kratzmann, 23, each pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Cian John English.
The Crown accepted each guilty plea and withdrew the original charge of murder when the matter was mentioned before Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday.
Mr English, 19, died after falling from the fourth floor of the View Pacific resort in Surfers Paradise, on Queensland’s Gold Coast, on May 23, 2020.
Cian English died after he fell from a balcony on the Gold Coast in May 2020
English was just 19-years-old. His grieving family say: ‘We’ll never see him get married, never get to experience his children who could have been anything’
He’d checked into the holiday apartment with a group of friends ready to enjoy the weekend partying, the court was told.
Kratzmann, Knowles and Soper-Lagas had also checked into the same hotel and were staying in an apartment on the fourth floor directly above Mr English’s apartment.
The court was told the two friend groups had began chatting while each were on their respective balconies.
During their conversation, Kratzmann invited Mr English and his friend up to the fourth floor apartment where he offered them some prescription and non-prescription drugs.
Crown Prosecutor Caroline Marco said the two friend groups were ‘amicable’ and continued to party together in the fourth floor apartment.
She said ‘that changed between 1.44am and 2.50am’ when Kratzmann began to accuse Mr English and friend of stealing the drugs.
The court heard that while the drugs were missing, ‘an associate of Kratzmann’ had stolen the drugs without his knowledge.
Ms Marco said during the next 27 minutes, the three men then began to threaten and assault Mr English and his friend, with the violence towards the pair ‘escalating’ as time went on.
The court was told both Mr English and his friend were physically and mentally abused by the three men at different times, ‘ inflicting pain and suffering’ on both men.
Mr English at one point was pushed face down into the couch and Kratzmann punched him in the back.
They were also threatened with knives, with Mr English’s friend even struck in the head with the butt of a knife at one point.
Ms Marco said Mr English then ran to the balcony in an effort to flee the men in the apartment after he realised it was unlikely he’d make it to the front door safely.
She said it was ‘most likely he tried to climb down to the floor below which is were his unit and fell.’
‘They each threatened and intimidated Mr English (and his friend), and encouraged the others,’ Ms Marco said.
Mr English fell from the fourth floor balcony of The View Pacific Resort at Surfers Paradise
‘This forced him to seek to escape by climbing over the balcony and falling to his death.’
The court was told the three men failed to help Mr English, and instead packed their bags and left the apartment 16 minutes after he fell.
Ms Marco said Kratzmann had at 3.14am called triple-0 telling the operator he’d been riding his bike and saw someone one the ground outside the apartment but lied about his name and phone number.
Mr English was declared dead by paramedics at 3.53am.
His family shared with the court how the young man’s death has deeply impacted them.
His father, Vincent English, shared how the loss of his son with the ‘cheeky smile’ continues to haunt him everyday.
‘No one should ever have to do this, there are no words that we can explain that we’ve gone through for the rest of our lives,’ Vincent English said.
‘They’ve taken our son away, taken away his future and darkened the future of those of those who loved and adored him.
‘We’ll never see him get married, never get to experience his children who could have been anything.
‘He was so gifted in sports and full of life no matter what he tried to, he wasn’t afraid of a challenge.
‘He was a magnet, he drew people to him, he was incredible know matter what and helped people.’
The 19-year-old’s mother, Siobhan English, said she continues to deal with the painful loss of her son.
‘The harrowing pain and haunting nightmares of seeing my beautiful boy broken and covered in bandages is an image that will never leave my mind,’ she said.
‘An entire generation has been altered forever.’
The court heard about the grief the English family felt, with many of those still residing in Ireland unable to attend the 19-year-old’s funeral due to Covid restrictions.
His uncle, Trevor Webster, said his family’s grief of missing the funeral will never end.
‘Cian’s passing has left a massive void in the family that’ll never be replaced,’ Mr Webster said.
‘His grandparents visit his grave three times a day so he’s not alone.’
Mr English’s friend who was also assaulted on the night told the court how he continues to suffer every day since losing his ‘best friend’.
He spoke about the ‘sleepless nights’ he still endures and the impact the physical and mental abuse he suffered continues to have an impact on his daily life.
The three men also each pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery in company, two counts of torture, and one count of stealing.
The court was told the trio stole another man’s shoes, belt, wallet, bag and Apple AirPods.
Mr Kratzmann also pleaded guilty to a separate offence of entering a premises with intent to commit an offence.
Ms Marco submitted Kratzmann and Knowles should be sentenced to 11 years in jail while Soper-Lagas receive nine years imprisonment.
The three men will be sentenced on Friday.