Dylan Closter outside Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.
Dylan Closter outside Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

One-punch killer on day release to play footy

A KILLER who chased down and fatally punched a man is being allowed out of prison on day release so he can play footy.

Dylan Closter, 24, was jailed for a minimum of six years over the brutal assault on 22-year-old David Cassai in Rye on New Year's Eve in 2012.

Now, just four years into the term imposed in 2014, it has been revealed he has been playing football with a regional team near his minimum security prison.

Dylan Closter outside Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.
Dylan Closter outside Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Cassai's mother Caterina Politi said she felt sick after being told of his regular day release by a Channel 7 reporter.

Ms Politi said a Department of Justice staffer had confirmed the secret day release arrangement.

"I am insulted, I'm offended. It's never about victims," she said.

"I hear this and I think why? The government says it wants to change things but it's all lip service.

"They don't want to change anything, they just want to keep it the way it is."

Ms Politi said she wasn't notified about the secret arrangement.

She said a government employee told her she only had to be notified when and her son's killer applied for parole.

"How inhumane to think we don't deserve to be told. As victims we're not worth a phone call or a letter," she said.

"I'm all for rehabilitation but punishment has to be number one."

Ms Politi said she worried for players lining up against Closter.

"What about the players in the other teams? Are they aware they're playing against a killer with lethal fists?," she said.

"Has that been disclosed to his teammates and opposition players? On so many levels it's so wrong."

David Cassai. Picture: Supplied
David Cassai. Picture: Supplied

Ms Politi said like so many other victims in Victoria, they fell behind accused and convicted criminals within the state's justice system.

"He sees the sunshine everyday. There's always a cloud in my life, my heart is all broken pieces.

"This keeps digging the knife in and twisting. You think you have to accept what's happened then this happens and it all comes undone.

"Unless it happens to someone who can make a difference, things will never change. If you're not high profile, forget about it."

Closter was jailed after pleading guilty to manslaughter and affray.

The Supreme Court heard Closter initiated the unprovoked assault on Mr Cassai and his friends as they walked past the Rye shopping strip on the way back to their campsite after drinking at the Portsea Hotel.

Melbourne mother Caterina Politi lost her 22-year-old son David Cassai to a one-punch attack. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian
Melbourne mother Caterina Politi lost her 22-year-old son David Cassai to a one-punch attack. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian

Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth said his unprovoked, alcohol-fuelled actions had catastrophic consequences.

"In the space of less than a minute, multiple punches had been thrown, one man was dead and five others were injured," the judge said.

David Cassai was killed after a one-punch attack. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian
David Cassai was killed after a one-punch attack. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian

"You repeatedly chased after him, trying to punch him, even though he and his friends were trying to back away from you and defuse the situation."

Mr Cassai stumbled and fell on the road after one punch connected, before getting up and being chased by Closter, who landed a powerful roundhouse punch to his left temple area.

Mr Cassai fell straight backwards, smacking his head on the pavement and fracturing his skull, causing the deadly brain injury to which he would succumb hours later.

In sentencing Closter to nine years and three months' imprisonment, with a non-parole period of six years, Justice Hollingworth told Closter: "What happened that night was entirely of your making."

Ms Politi has spent the years since her son's death campaigning against coward punch attacks through her foundation Stop. One Punch Can Kill.

Corrections Victoria said in a statement: "Only minimum security prisoners who meet club eligibility standards are able to participate in local football leagues.

"They are carefully selected based on behaviour and risk assessments, and prison management works closely with clubs and the league to facilitate their involvement.

"Prisoners remain under strict and constant supervision at all times while in the community, with approved volunteers escorting them to and from training and games and providing supervision throughout.

"Where any issues are identified with a prisoner's conduct, prison management will liaise with the club and the league and take appropriate action as required."



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