A man charged with the murder of a popular apprentice plumber at a birthday party in a Melbourne high-rise has claimed he was only acting in self-defence.
Rian Farrell, 22, of Newport, who at his last court appearance in June tried to do a runner, is accused of murdering ‘class clown’ Liam Cahill, 22, who was celebrating a friend’s birthday at a party on the 15th floor of a Docklands high-rise on May 30.
Farrell appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Monday via videolink from his prison cell where his lawyer, Stary Norton Halphen’s Sam Norton, called on police to drop the murder charge.
Farrell is accused of stabbing to death Mr Cahill about 10.30pm before fleeing the high rise apartment by climbing down the wall.
Mr Norton told the court that he was in discussions with police and prosecutors to withdraw the murder charge.
Failing that, he said he would apply to have the offence discharged by the court.
Outside court, Mr Norton told Daily Mail Australia his client had acted in self defence against his alleged victim.
It remains unclear what sparked the alleged attack against Mr Cahill, who reportedly knew his alleged killer.
Farrell’s Facebook page gives away little indication to a motive.
On May 28 – two days before the incident – Farrell appeared to be interested in purchasing a Playstation 4.
On the day of the alleged murder, witnesses reported hearing the noise of an altercation throughout the building, with one resident telling of their fear when they heard a young woman screaming.
‘It was so loud we thought it was on our floor, but I think it was downstairs,’ the resident told the Herald Sun.
‘It was terrifying.’
The fight was heard by another resident, Rocky Petrelli, who lives in a 14th floor apartment below.
‘It was just really noisy, it was like there was elephants stomping the ground in the apartment above, that’s what I could hear below,’ Mr Petrelli told Seven News.
The apprentice plumber from Pascoe Vale in Melbourne’s north was allegedly stabbed several times before his accused killer fled, climbing down two balconies on the side of the building in a desperate bid to escape.
One of the apartments he’s accused of trying to break into during his alleged escape bid was Mr Petrelli’s.
‘It’s pretty scary that you think that it’s a safe building especially when you’re on the 14th floor and you’ve got someone jumping balconies to try and escape the building,’ Mr Petrelli said.
He was unsuccessful, and climbed down another balcony to the 13th floor where he ran through an unlocked apartment in his bid for freedom.
The suspect was tackled to the ground by police a short distance away.
Mr Cahill was given first aid by another resident of the building, but couldn’t be saved.
The alleged murder traumatised the other party guests who had to be comforted by police at the scene.
‘Why did you do this to me?’ screamed a woman at the scene.
A young woman with bright red hair was seen screaming in the lobby, falling to her knees in distress before being comforted by police and led away.
Police and emergency services swarmed the building at about 11pm, arresting a suspect.
Police could be seen leading young people sobbing with grief from the building.
Mr Cahill’s friends took to social media to leave tributes for him, saying how much they loved the popular young tradesman.
‘I will love you forever brother, I am going to miss you everyday. Thank you for every single memory together,’ wrote one friend on Facebook.
Close friend Macayla Dickson wept as she described Mr Cahill’s sense of humour.
‘He was just the best person. Just always had a laugh and always the class clown and just had his heart out for everyone,’ she told Nine News.
Mr Dickson wrote on social media: Waking up seeing all these posts praying to God it’s all a joke. I am so grateful for having the pleasure of being in your life. I love you and I hope you’re at peace now… forever be in my heart.’
On Monday, Farrell sat quietly as the brief hearing took place via videolink.
At his last appearance, he had appeared in shock as his lawyer told the court this was his first time in prison.
The short filing hearing had otherwise gone to plan until two mates disrupted the hearing.
The pair – who both wore hats inside the court room in a blatant sign of disrespect for the magistrate – yelled out ‘stay strong brother’ as Farrell was being led from the prison dock by two security guards.
The exchange saw Farrell burst out into tears and attempt to rush for the prison dock door.
Farrell was tackled and wrestled into an adjoining room as he cried out to his mates, telling them he loved them.
Farrell could be heard screaming from behind the locked prison door as his crying mates rushed outside of the court house.
Once on William Street, the hatted duo had no intention of talking to the waiting media pack, with one lout lashing out at a television cameraman.
The veteran cameraman shook off the ugly confrontation.
Farrell was remanded in custody and will face Melbourne Magistrates Court again in a month.