Melbourne man jailed for nine years for killing innocent foreigner for stealing DJ equipment



A Melbourne man who was once the terrified victim of a home invasion has himself been jailed for storming a house with a sawed-off shotgun and killing a stranger for stolen DJ equipment.

Tony Panagiotou, 59, was sentenced to nine years behind bars after pleading guilty in the Supreme Court of Victoria to the manslaughter of Duane Hutchings in Oakleigh East nearly three years ago.

Mr Hutchings, 46, was visiting a friend who had stolen the expensive equipment when he was shot by Panagiotou.

The father of six was innocent and had nothing to do with the theft.

With time served, Panagiotou will be eligible for parole in just over three years.

“Your actions made the catastrophe that happened inevitable,” Judge Lex Lasry said.

The fatal shooting was sparked after Mr Hutchings’ friend stole DJ equipment hired by Panagiotou’s sons George and John.

The Supreme Court heard that in February 2019, George and John Panagiotou turned themselves in to police twice after finding a Gumtree listing for stolen equipment, but officers said it was a ” civil matter” and that nothing could be done.

“It’s very unfortunate considering what followed,” Judge Lasry said.

Panagiotou fired shotgun ‘unknowingly’, lawyer says

Later that night the brothers decided to take matters into their own hands and, armed with batons, tracked the equipment to an address in Oakleigh East where the items had been listed for sale.

The sentencing judge said Tony Panagiotou’s acts of “tragic stupidity” led to the fatal shooting.

They were accompanied by associates and their father, Tony Panagiotou, who was armed with a sawed-off shotgun he had acquired a few weeks earlier.

When the men arrived at the unit, one of them went inside to confirm it was their gear before a group of them stormed the house, where Mr. Hutchings was visiting.

The Supreme Court heard the men began kicking and punching Mr Hutchings before Panagiotou, who had hidden the sawed-off shotgun under his sweater, pulled it out and shot Mr Hutchings in the head.

Forensic experts later discovered that the barrel of Panagiotou’s gun was only 20 centimeters from his victim.

The men fled, taking the DJ equipment with them.

A grainy photograph of the living room of a suburban home, complete with sofas and a television.
Tony Panagiotou fatally shot Duane Hutchings at the Oakleigh East house where the DJ’s equipment was kept.(Provided: Supreme Court of Victoria)

The court heard that Mr Hutchings’ friend had pleaded with George Panagiotou to let her call an ambulance, but he yelled at her to wait five minutes.

Mr Hutchings was eventually taken to Alfred Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Panagiotou was arrested at his home and later told police he believed Mr Hutchings was looking for a weapon while he was beaten and had no intention of pulling the trigger.

Lawyers defending Panagiotou told the court that he fired the shotgun “unknowingly” and not deliberately.

The court heard today that Panagiotou was severely traumatized after a home invasion in 2006 where he was allegedly held at gunpoint, and Judge Lasry today acknowledged it affected his decision-making but had not reduced his moral culpability.

The Supreme Court was told that Panagiotou had since expressed shame and “utter self-loathing” at the incident.

George Panagiotou was jailed for just over two years for his role in the case while his brother, John Panagiotou, received a three-year community order.

The officers who told the men it was a civil matter have since faced disciplinary action.

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