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  • Jason Regan

Vic man set mate alight after fight in car

A Victorian man was left in a coma for two weeks after his friend doused him in petrol and set him alight following a heated argument, a court has been told. 

Umit Gorgulu, 39, is standing trial before the Victorian Supreme Court accused of the attempted murder of his 47-year-old housemate Kevin Taplin at Hamilton in April 2019. 

The pair were driving to the southwest Victorian town from their home in Portland to pick up Mr Taplin's motorbike when they had a fight in the car, prosecutor Raymond Gibson QC said. 

Gorgulu then doused Mr Taplin and his car in petrol and set him alight with a cigarette lighter outside a home in Hamilton. A witness heard the accused man yell out: "I want to kill the bastard so he can burn in hell."

Mr Taplin was airlifted to Melbourne's Alfred Hospital with severe burns to his head, torso, hands, arms, legs and internal organs. The 47-year-old was placed on life support and spent two weeks in a coma. 

"I f*** you up and (then) you understand me much better," Gorgulu said to Mr Taplin in a voice message before the attack played to court. 

Mr Gibson told the jury that the 39-year-old had been charged with attempted murder, with an alternative charge of causing serious injury intentionally. 

"Given the anger displayed by Gorgulu, what witnesses heard him say, what he said in the voicemail message, and what his actions were in dousing Mr Taplin and the car in fuel and setting him alight, our case is that he attempted to kill him and is therefore guilty of attempted murder," the prosecutor said. 

Defence barrister James McQuillan said there was no dispute Gorgulu set Mr Taplin on fire but argued it was a "terrible accident" and that he did not mean to kill him.

"That's what this trial is about - his intent or otherwise," Mr McQuillan told the jury.  

The trial, heard before Justice Amanda Fox at Warrnambool, continues on Wednesday. 


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