Aug 02, 2023

Pensioner gets 30 years for double murder over garden hose dispute

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The 74-year-old will be eligible for parole in 2046. [Source: ABC News]

A Melbournian pensioner is likely to spend the rest of his days in prison after being sentenced to 30 years in jail for the double murder of his neighbours following a dispute over a garden hose. 

Rodney John Lee, 74, shot and killed Saumoto Gasio, 62, and Tibor Laszlo, 57, at a Mordialloc unit block in Melbourne on January 13, 2022 after neighbours turned off his running garden hose. 

Mr Lee had accused one neighbour’s grandson of being a drug dealer and was angry others would turn off a hose he used to water a communal garden.

A confrontation and subsequent fight broke out amongst the neighbours later that night after Mr Gasio argued water was a precious resource.

Mr Lee went back into his apartment and returned with a shotgun – shooting Mr Gasio at close distance and later, Mr Laszlo, once the injured victim ran to fellow neighbours for help. Both men died at the scene.

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Saumoto Gasio (left) and Tibor Laszlo(right). [Source: Facebook]

During his police interview, Mr Lee allegedly told detectives “I’ve been provoked a bit, haven’t I? I’ve never hurt anyone in my life but enough’s enough.”

At his sentencing at Melbourne’s Supreme Court on Monday, Mr Lee appeared via video link from prison – allegedly slumping over the desk and falling asleep during parts of the hearing. 

The court heard Lee is wheelchair-bound, suffered from multiple medical conditions and had suffered from a traumatic childhood, but had gone on to have a stable life with no prior convictions before the fatal attack.

The court also heard tensions between Mr Lee and his neighbours were progressively getting worse leading up to the murders. Other neighbours alleged Mr Lee was a belligerent bully who had been banned from some local establishments and had a previous run-in with police over his antics. 

At the hearing, Justice James Elliott said Mr Lee would likely die in jail, describing his actions as “senseless and brutally violent”. He said Mr Lee wasn’t remorseful for the murders and continues to view himself as the victim in the incident. 

“You’ll almost certainly be imprisoned for the remainder of your life,” the judge said.

In May, Mr Lee plead guilty to the murders. On Monday, he was sentenced to 30 years in jail, to serve at least 24 years. He has already spent 565 days in custody.

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