Vendetta led to Melb mum’s murder: lawyer


A man with a vendetta, not unlike Captain Ahab versus Moby Dick, is the person who killed Melbourne’s mother Judy Bednar, claims her son’s lawyer.

Thomas Bednar is charged with the murder of his 68-year-old mother at her Chelsea home in May 2021.

But he didn’t do it, Victoria Supreme Court barrister John Desmond said in his closing address to jurors on Friday.

Ms Bednar suffered multiple blows causing major rib fractures and died from injuries that compromised her respiratory system.

She was found naked on her bedroom floor by police after friends could not reach her for several days.

Danny Cohen, who described himself as a step-brother or half-brother to Bendar, told jurors in his evidence that he had a duty of care to Ms Bednar.

He and Bednar had argued over a taxi business.

Mr Desmond said a period of Moby Dick-like vendetta against Bednar followed, during which Mr Cohen integrated himself into Ms Bednar’s life.

“The whale caught Ahab, now it’s Ahab’s turn to have the whale,” he said.

“This simple analysis is appropriate in this case – Bednar hurt Cohen, so Cohen was going to hurt Bednar.”

He accused Mr. Cohen of dressing in clothes taken from Bednar and going to his mother’s house to steal $2,000 in cash he knew she had in the house.

Mr. Desmond suggested that Ms. Bednar woke up to find Mr. Cohen there.

“He would have little time to assess the delicacies of the situation he got himself into and he assaults her,” he said.

While Captain Ahab’s obsession with revenge led to his downfall, Mr. Cohen’s obsession with repaying Bednar led to Mrs. Bednar’s untimely and tragic death, Mr. Desmond said.

“Cohen may not have intended to hurt her, but he killed her,” he said.

In his closing arguments to jurors on Thursday, prosecutor Mark Rochford KC criticized the suspect’s alternative theory as Mr Desmond tried to muddy the waters for jurors.

“Why is killing his mother going to bother (Bednar) in any way? It’s ridiculous, it’s absurd,” he said.

He alleged that Bednar’s motive for killing his mother was that he believed she was responsible for four involuntary mental health admissions in the year before her death.

Bednar admitted to police that he was not upset that his mother died, telling them she had been a “bitch” to him.

Mr Desmond admitted that Bednar had breached an intervention order his mother had taken by getting in the way – by rummaging through rubbish, cutting off mains power and taps.

“It undeniably caused a lot of stress, upset and anguish for Judith,” he said.

“But like I said, he walks away at every opportunity without any threat of harm or death. They actually show…a pattern that he’s not ready to physically hurt his mother.”

Jurors are expected to begin deliberations on Monday.

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