A trio of men have been cleared of murdering a Melbourne gigolo who claimed to be a vampire.
Three men have been acquitted of murdering self-professed vampire prostitute Shane Chartres-Abbott, who was gunned down outside his Melbourne home.
Mr Chartres-Abbott, 28, was shot dead in front of his pregnant girlfriend in 2003 while on trial for the alleged rape of a female client.
The woman’s former boyfriend Mark Adrian Perry, 46, and two other men, Warren Shea, 42, and Evangelos Goussis, 46, pleaded not guilty to his murder.
A Victorian Supreme Court jury returned not guilty verdicts for all three men on Tuesday following their two-month trial.
During the trial the jury heard Mr Chartres-Abbott told his alleged victim he was a vampire who needed to drink blood to survive, and he was “older than the city of Melbourne”.
The woman he allegedly raped was found unconscious in a hotel room with cuts and bite marks covering her body and part of her tongue missing.
Mr Chartres-Abbott was heading to his rape trial with his pregnant partner and her father when he was killed outside his Reservoir home in June 2003.
In the trial’s key piece of evidence, jurors heard from a man who cannot be named, who claimed he shot Mr Chartres-Abbott to even the score for the alleged rape.
The man said Shea came to him and told him of Mr Chartres-Abbott’s alleged crime and that he subsequently shot the sex worker for Shea.
Prosecutor Andrew Tinney SC told the trial Perry was enraged about the attack on his ex-girlfriend and set the hit in motion by contacting his friend Shea.
“The murder was carried out for perhaps the oldest and most powerful reason – vengeance,” he said.
Mr Tinney argued that even though none of Perry, Shea or Goussis pulled the trigger, they were part of a joint criminal enterprise that led to Mr Chartres-Abbott’s death.
“Each is as guilty of the murder of Shane Chartres-Abbott as the man who pulled the trigger,” he said.
Barristers for each of Perry, Shea and Goussis said the man who cannot be named was a liar, and their clients had nothing to do with the death.
Supporters of the men cheered as the verdicts were delivered and applauded the jury members as they left the court room.
The trio was found not guilty of both murder and the alternative charge of manslaughter.
Goussis wept and mouthed his thanks to the jury while holding his hand over his heart.
He is serving a minimum 30-year prison sentence for the murders of gangland figures Lewis Moran and Lewis Caine, but the verdicts left Perry and Shea free to walk from court.
Both men tried to avoid the waiting media outside court and made no comments to reporters.
Perry was arrested in Perth last year and extradited to Melbourne after disappearing in 2007 when he learned he was being investigated for the killing of the male prostitute.