“NEVER a day goes by when he’s not on my mind.”
It’s been almost a decade since 22-year-old Lukas (Newton) Gleeson was murdered in Sydney Street, Muswellbrook, and his grandfather Les Gleeson still laments the tragic circumstances, which unfolded on July 21, 2007.
How an innocent night out with mates ended so badly, culminating in two scuffles and, ultimately, disaster.
Michael Kutschera was sentenced in the Newcastle Supreme Court to a minimum 20 years’ jail term, after being found guilty of running over Gleeson in a four-wheel drive.
Justice Elizabeth Fullerton called the incident “callous” when handing down the penalty.
Kutschera appealed against his conviction, but it was dismissed. He then appealed the severity of his jail term, and the Court of Criminal Appeal re-sentenced Kutschera to a non-parole period of 18 years.
“Lukas was well-loved – and wouldn’t go out of his way to hurt anyone. What happened to him was a shock. It makes no sense seeing someone’s life cut so short.
“The pain never goes away,” Mr Gleeson, who raised Lukas Gleeson from the age of three months, said this week. “No one has the right to take someone else’s life. Lukas would have turned 23 a couple of weeks later.”
To honour the Muswellbrook born-and-bred boy’s memory, several of his mates – John Cribb, Shay Burgess and Ty Turnbull – will host a memorial at the Prince of Wales Tavern from 4pm on Friday, July 21.
From there, they’ll head across the road to the Sydney Street site for a minute’s silence, to lay flowers and pay their respects.
“We just wanted to do something,” Mr Turnbull said. “He would have done this for one of us.
“It’s a chance to remember Lukas for who he was, not what happened. We’ll catch up and tell a few stories about him. It’s open to anyone who knew Lukas, as well as family members.”
Mr Turnbull said he met the “quiet bloke” at Muswellbrook High School in 1997.
“Lukas was well-loved – and wouldn’t go out of his way to hurt anyone,” he said.
“What happened to him was a shock. It makes no sense seeing someone’s life cut so short.
“I can’t believe it’s 10 years since he died.”
While the heartache will always remain for him, Mr Gleeson admitted he was moved by Lukas’ friends’ gesture.
“I appreciate what the boys are doing – and I’ll pop down [on July 21],” he said.
“It’s amazing they think enough of Lukas to do it.”