Shop owner shoots portrait seller, stores body in wheelie bin for 17 years

| 09.04,19. 08:30 PM |

Shop owner shoots portrait seller, stores body in wheelie bin for 17 years

For 17 years, John Christianos's body sat undiscovered, covered by grass clippings, in a wheelie bin inside a Melbourne storage unit.

His killer, John Spencer White, stopped paying rent on the unit soon after dumping Mr Christianos's body, and later moved to Queensland to enjoy his retirement from selling memorabilia.

Victoria Police had appealed for help to find his 40-year-old victim after he was reported missing in 2001, unaware his body was hidden in a bin two suburbs from his home in East Bentleigh, in Melbourne's south-east.

It was not until the owner of the storage facility sold the property last year that workers emptied it and discovered Mr Christianos's remains.

White, 69, had been notified to collect his items from the unit before it was cleared, but he did not take up the opportunity.

Instead, he was arrested by police at his home at Tewantin, in the Sunshine Coast town of Noosa, weeks after the discovery of his victim's body. He was then charged with murder.

White admitted to police that he shot and killed Mr Christianos during an alcohol-fuelled argument in 2001.

Today, he pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court to the lesser offence of manslaughter.

The court heard Mr Christianos was a graphic designer who sold portraits of champion footballer Gary Ablett and cricket legend Don Bradman in White's memorabilia shop at Malvern East.

He also lived at the business with White for a period of time before moving to Bentleigh East, where he was living at the time he was killed.

The court heard the men went to a pub in Caulfield together on the night of Mr Christianos's death and returned to White's business to continue drinking.

They began arguing before Mr Christianos pulled out a knife, prompting White to arm himself with a gun.

He shot Mr Christianos twice, killing him.

The court heard Mr Christianos had a history of being violent and acting irrationally, and had been banned from a number of local pubs.

After pleading guilty, White applied for bail on the basis he had lived a law-abiding life since killing Mr Christianos, was not at risk of fleeing, and had personal and medical issues he needed to sort out before spending a lengthy time in custody.

His barrister, Philip Dunn QC, also told the court White's memories of traumatic incidents he experienced while living in an institution as a child contributed to his fears about his safety in custody at the maximum-security Barwon Prison.

Mr Dunn said he was being held with some of the state's worst "villains" and had witnessed several violent incidents while in prison.

Prosecutors opposed bail and it was denied.

White will appear in the Victorian Supreme Court for a directions hearing on Thursday.


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