Airbnb host jailed for killing guest over unpaid bill

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Airbnb app on a phone against a background of wrapped giftsImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Ramis Jonuzi was killed because he could not afford to pay for his room in an Airbnb property

An Airbnb host in Australia has been jailed for 11 years for killing a guest who could not afford to pay.

A jury convicted Jason Colton, 42, of 2017 killing of Ramis Jonuzi. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but denied murder.

A court heard two housemates had held the 36-year-old down, while Colton beat and strangled him for not paying the A$210 (£113, $149) he owed.

A judge described the attack as "cowardly, vicious and unprovoked".

Mr Jonuzi, a 36-year-old bricklayer, had packed his bags and was about to leave the home when he was attacked.

Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth said Colton instigated the violence.

"You lunged at him, grabbed him by the collar, spun him around, and threw him against the wall," said the judge according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Colton was initially charged with murder, but prosecutors dropped the charge after he admitted to manslaughter.

He will be eligible for parole in eight years.

'Brutal' attack

During the trial in March, the Supreme Court of Victoria heard that Mr Jonuzi had rented the room in Brighton East, a suburb in Melbourne, to have a cheap and stable place to stay while he dealt with "personal issues".

The bricklayer first rented the room for three nights from the three men - Colton, landlord Craig Levy and housemate Ryan Smart - before asking to extend his stay by a week for A$210.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The killing happened at a house in a suburb of Melbourne in October 2017

However when check-out day arrived, he had less than A$10 in his account and was unable to pay the bill.

Justice Hollingworth said Colton instigated the "brutal and one-sided" attack, and later downplayed his actions amid other lies he told police.

"Even after you were aware that he had died, you called Mr Jonuzi a scumbag, a piece of trash, a junkie, someone who deserved everything he got," she said.

Prosecutors told the court that Colton beat his guest until he lost consciousness. The housemates then dragged him out in the garden where they continued the attack.

Colton had said he only wanted to cause Mr Jonuzi to pass out, not kill or seriously injure him.

Both Levy and Smart pleaded guilty to manslaughter in September last year. Smart received a nine-year jail sentence, while Levy was sentenced to seven and a half years.

Airbnb has previously said it was "deeply saddened and outraged" by the case, and that it had removed the listing from its site.