‘I hate the bad guy who killed my dad. I hope he is as sad as me’

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The eight-year-old daughter of a man left to die on the footpath outside a Melbourne boxing event says she hates the bad man who killed her dad and hopes he’s as sad as her.

In a statement read out to the Supreme Court on Friday by the prosecution, Ben Togiai’s daughter, Alyssa, wrote of the sadness she felt waking up without a dad at home and of the unfairness of watching other children attend the park with their fathers.

She was three at the time of his death.

Ben Togiai was shot dead outside Melbourne Pavilion in Kensington.Credit: Facebook

    “I think there should be no more guns and knives in the world so [there’s] no other kids like me,” she said.

    “I hate the bad guy who killed my dad. I hope he is as sad as me.”

    Togiai, 33, had attended a packed public event at the Melbourne Pavilion in Kensington with his work colleagues when he was shot without warning as an innocent bystander as he left the venue with groups of other patrons in March 2019.

    The shooter, 31-year-old Abdullah El Nasher, faced court on Friday after a jury found him guilty of murdering Togiai and intentionally causing serious injury to another man who was shot in the leg after tensions between two groups at the event boiled over.

    El Nasher appeared emotionless and attempted to avoid the gaze of Togiai’s family while victim impact statements were read to the court.

    The court heard that on the night of March 1, 2019, El Nasher attended a boxing match at the Melbourne Pavilion on Racecourse Road in Kensington with friends.

    Ruth Togiai and Faatau Togiai, the mother and father of Benjamin Togiai outside the Supreme Court on Friday.Credit: Paul Rovere

    Mother Ruth Togiai, who attended court in a wheelchair, revealed her granddaughter had been robbed of a life with her father and was left to look at photographs on the wall to help remind her of her father.

    “At the time Ben was murdered I was undergoing chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Ben lived with us at that time. Every payday he’d bring me home a bunch of flowers and give me a gentle bear hug cuddle. Oh, how I loved his bear hugs,” she said.

    “The night he was murdered, he came home from work and came directly to my bedroom to tell me … his boss Omar had bought tickets for the staff to attend a boxing match that night.

    “He was so excited because he’d never been to a boxing match before. It was our granddaughter’s 13th birthday that day and Ben was a bit upset because he wanted to go to the celebration, but did not want to let his boss Omar down because the tickets were so expensive.”

    She said that due to ill health immediately after her son’s funeral, she had to return to the Olivia Newton John cancer centre to undergo further cancer treatment.

    “It was the hardest night of my life. Alone in a hospital bed with harsh chemo running through my body,” she said.

    “Knowing … I’d go home … without my precious son. My gentle giant. Life will never be the same.”

    Witness Alana Luppi was outside the venue smoking a cigarette when she saw the killing. She said she now equated boxing to gun violence and violent criminals.

    Abdullah El Nasher arrives at the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne.Credit: Paul Jeffers

    On Friday, El Nasher, a former electrician, also pleaded guilty to being a prohibited person who used and possessed a firearm on the day of the murder, after serving an earlier jail term in NSW.

    Crown prosecutor Sara Thomas revealed that on the morning of the murder, El Nasher attended his brother’s smash-repair business at Epping where he produced a firearm while speaking with a neighbour through the fence.

    Benjamin Togiai’s family outside the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne.Credit: AAP

    Thomas said that while sliding the top off the pistol, El Nasher said: “Where I come from, this is how we do business.”

    In June, a Supreme Court jury found El Nasher guilty of murdering Togiai and intentionally causing serious injury to another man.

    The jury found a second shooter – Osamma Allouche – not guilty of both charges. Allouche fired only one bullet and it struck the footpath. His lawyer argued he was acting in self-defence when he fired the shot.

    El Nasher supporters leave the court.Credit: Paul Rovere.

    Thomas said the prosecution was not seeking a lifetime imprisonment sentence, but submitted the murder was a high-end example of the crime.

    Justice Christopher Beale said the shooting of two men in a public place was a terrifying incident for all who were out that night.

    He intends to sentence El Nasher at the end of November.

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