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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Blake Foden

Pub murder accused considers pleading guilty to manslaughter

Murder accused Kerry Kourpanidis. Inset: Warren Hordpenko, who was fatally beaten at the Kingston Hotel. Pictures: Jamila Toderas, ACT Policing

The tradesman accused of bashing a drunk pub patron to death at the Kingston Hotel may plead guilty to manslaughter if given the opportunity, a court has heard.

Kerry Kourpanidis, 35, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of 44-year-old South Coast man Warren Hordpenko, who was fatally beaten at the south Canberra pub on July 5.

When Mr Kourpanidis made his most recent appearance in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday, defence lawyer Gavin Mansfield sought to cast doubt on the strength of the prosecution case.

"The Crown is going to have significant difficulty making out the requisite intent for a charge of murder," Mr Mansfield said.

In the ACT, a murder charge requires prosecutors to prove that a killer either intended to cause a death, acted with reckless indifference to life, or wanted to cause serious harm.

Mr Mansfield said the facts of the matter suggested, however, that Mr Kourpanidis might have a case to answer in terms of manslaughter.

He said he anticipated having discussions with prosecutor Patrick Dixon around whether such a charge might be laid as an alternative to murder, but he was yet to receive the full brief of evidence.

Mr Mansfield therefore asked Magistrate Glenn Theakston to refrain from committing the matter to the ACT Supreme Court until next year.

This was partly because if Mr Kourpanidis ultimately decided to enter a guilty plea before committal, he would be entitled to the maximum possible discount on his sentence.

Mr Theakston agreed to keep the matter in the Magistrates Court for the time being, and remanded Mr Kourpanidis in custody until his next appearance on February 1.

In documents previously tendered to the court, police claim Mr Kourpanidis left Mr Hordpenko to die on the Kingston Hotel's poolroom floor after unleashing a furious flurry of punches.

It is alleged that at some stage earlier on the evening in question, Mr Kourpanidis took offence to Mr Hordpenko making his young daughter feel "uncomfortable".

Police say the tradesman took the girl home to his place in nearby Griffith and put her to bed, before driving back to the pub and charging at Mr Hordpenko.

In the space of just 46 seconds he is alleged to have tackled Mr Hordpenko off a stool, landed up to 13 blows and fled the scene, having told the heavily intoxicated victim: "You f---ed with my daughter, c---."

Two men who witnessed part of the incident have told investigators that Mr Hordpenko had offered no resistance, and that the 44-year-old appeared to be losing consciousness after just one or two strikes.

Mr Kourpanidis was arrested in Civic four days after Mr Hordpenko's death.

He has been behind bars on remand ever since.

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