AN ice user who stabbed a fellow mourner at a funeral, causing life-threatening injuries, faces jail.
Matthew Allan Price, 31, of Merrivale Drive, Warrnambool, pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool County Court yesterday to intentionally causing serious injury when he stabbed Stephen Bermingham on November 29 last year.
Judge Mark Taft warned Price he would receive a prison term early next week and remanded him in custody with a recommendation he see a mental health professional while in custody.
Defence barrister Andrew Hale said Warrnambool police officers found Price on the Swinton Street bridge yesterday morning with a collar and chain around his neck. They took him to hospital to be assessed. Price has already spent 109 days in prison custody and has prior court appearances for drug matters.
Crown prosecutor Patrick Bourke said Price and the victim, Stephen Bermingham, were known to each other as they both grew up in Merrivale.
On the afternoon of November 29 they separately attended the funeral of a friend before going to a wake at the Warrnambool football club.
About 7pm Price and Mr Bermingham became involved in an argument in the bar, with Price saying: “I’m going to stab you, you king-hitting c...”.
Price continued to harass Mr Bermingham before the latter invited him to go outside to “have a go”.
Soon after Price was asked to leave by a club staff member but was seen again 15 minutes later and escorted from the premises.
Mr Bermingham followed Price outside with his brother and a woman.
In the car park Price held a knife beside his leg before lunging at Mr Bermingham, inflicting a stab wound to the left side of his chest and a laceration to his forehead.
Price then fled and was arrested by police later that night. He was so intoxicated he was not interviewed until the next morning.
Mr Bermingham suffered life-threatening injuries and spent 11 days in hospital, about half of that in intensive care after complications caused by an infection.
During an interview with police, Price said he was “pretty full” and there was a “bit of a punch-on” in the car park, in which he was hit but did not punch back, and denied stabbing the victim.
Mr Hale said his client was “not the sharpest tool in the shed” and in a letter of apology Price blamed his action on drug use.
Judge Taft questioned Mr Hale about Price’s motive for the stabbing, which he described as inexplicable, and the barrister claimed Mr Bermingham had been a “bit of a standover man towards him”.
Mr Hale said Price used crystal methamphetamine on the morning of the funeral and had eight to 10 stubbies of cider at the wake.
He said his client brought a knife to a fist fight and got in first, but Mr Bermingham was not there to discuss the weather.
Mr Hale said the weapon used was a small pocket knife which Price carried on his key ring and Price’s attitude was that stabbing Mr Bermingham with a little knife was not going to cause any problems.