“I didn’t want to kill anyone”: man accused of murdering Van Phan Nguyen in 1989 tells Perth court

Van Phan Nguyen was killed in 1989.
Van Phan Nguyen was killed in 1989.

A MENTALLY ill man accused of murdering father-of-eight Van Phan Nguyen in Perth almost 30 years ago fled the state and went on a stabbing spree in Queensland three months later, a court has heard.

Mr Nguyen, a Vietnamese migrant, was 62 when he was stabbed 28 times in the head, chest and upper body as he walked along a path next to a train station on his way to his East Perth home on November 23, 1989.

Vincenzo Carlo Marotta, 56, is facing a judge-alone trial in the West Australian Supreme Court and claims he is not guilty of wilful murder due to unsoundness of mind.

The knife used to attack Mr Nguyen was bought from an army surplus store and previously wielded in August 1988 to stab a man and woman at a Fremantle nightclub.

For those offences, Marotta served a prison term and had the weapon returned to him upon his release, the court heard on Monday.

About one month later, he allegedly stabbed Mr Nguyen after hearing voices telling him to do it.

“I lost control … I thought ‘alright, these voices are telling me to kill people … I’ll kill this guy’,” he told police in an interview played in court.

“I didn’t want to kill anyone – I was very sick.”

After the frenzied attack, he threw the knife into a rubbish bin and went to sleep at his brother’s home.

Marotta fled to Adelaide days later, and in February 1990 stabbed several people in Queensland.

He was convicted of five counts of attempted murder and burglary offences and was sentenced to life in jail.

WA Police travelled to Queensland to question Marotta in 1990 over Mr Nguyen’s death but he was not charged at the time due to insufficient evidence, the court heard.

Marotta was transferred to WA in 1994 to serve his prison term.

In 2003, two inmates who knew Marotta in prison said he had boasted about getting away with the killing and outsmarting the major crime squad.

Marotta, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was finally charged over Mr Nguyen’s death in 2016 after police reopened the case.

The trial before Justice Lindy Jenkins continues.