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‘We thought Australia was a safe haven’: Father faces killer after a second son dies in street violence

A father wiped away tears as he told a court his family had fled war-torn Sudan for a better life only to have two sons killed in Melbourne’s street violence.

An emotional Antipas Kot faced his elder son’s killer, James Makir, 26, as the prosecution read his victim impact statement to the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Brothers Kon Kot (left) and Machar Kot were both killed in Melbourne six months apart.Credit:Twitter/LanaMurphy

“The death of my two sons has devastated my family here and back home,” Antipas Kot said.

“We thought Australia was a safe haven for us. Unfortunately, we’re currently experiencing much misfortune.”

The Kot family were still mourning the loss of Machar Kot, 21 – who was fatally stabbed in an unrelated incident in Melbourne’s CBD in June 2020 – when they received a call to say Kon Kot, 24, had been killed.

The court heard Makir and Kon Kot were friends at high school. But on December 21, 2020, Kot learned Makir had been standing over Kot’s teenage brother outside the Hungry Jack’s restaurant in Caroline Springs.

Machar Kot with sister Anhial Kot.

Kot arrived about 9pm and witnesses said he was heard saying, “I just want to talk to him, nothing more, nothing less.”

Kot was later stabbed four times, the fatal wound penetrating his heart. His dying words were: “The dog got me.”

At the time, Makir had been out of custody for only three months after previously being held for five months for theft and robbery offences.

Prosecutor Neill Hutton said while it was not known who brought the knife to the scene, Makir was arrested nearby and later charged with murder, before he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in September.

Hutton said Kot’s father – who also goes by the name Antipas Kooc – immigrated to Australia in 2000 after fleeing Sudan, via Egypt, with his family for security reasons.

The father, who had studied law in Sudan, said Kon completed high school in Melbourne and had been accepted into RMIT University when he was killed.

In her victim impact statement, sister Anhial Kot said she had barely begun grieving the loss of her other brother when her 24-year-old sibling was also killed.

“Imagine the feelings that ran through my body that night. Imagine having to sit both my parents down to string a sentence together,” she said.

“I just hope through all this we can get some justice for my brother. He did not deserve this. He spent the last few moments of his life fighting for my younger brother.

“I hope no one else has to endure the tragedies we have.”

Defence barrister John Desmond submitted it was Kot who threw the first punch, and denied it was Makir who took the knife to Caroline Springs.

He said it was a dynamic scene and his client had acted out in “excessive” self-defence.

“It was a knife being used in a fist fight,” Desmond said.

Like the Kot family, the Makir family also fled from Sudan to Australia when their children were young, the court heard.

In Sudan, Desmond said, Makir “grew up with terror” and witnessed death and violence, before he came to Melbourne and attended school for the first time.

There, he met his victim.

“He hates himself for what happens, he regrets not walking away,” Desmond said.

Machar Kot, 21, was fatally stabbed in an unrelated incident outside the Oaks Melbourne on Market Hotel in June 2020.

Marco Deng, 24, was later jailed for 19 years with a non-parole period of 14 years in late 2022 after being found guilty of murdering Machar Kot.

Justice Amanda Fox, who was also the judge who sentenced Deng last year, will sentence Makir on a later date.

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