Brother stabbed in heart over prison debt

Jesse Tovey was jailed after pleading guilty to manslaughter over the death of his brother in January 2021. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Luis Enrique Ascui

A Melbourne man has been jailed after killing his brother in a “horrible tragedy” over a disputed prison debt.

Jesse Tovey, then 26, had been couch surfing with friends in Melbourne after his release from prison in late 2020 when his elder brother, Joshua, began chasing up a $600 debt.

Joshua had deposited $900 into his younger brother’s prison account, with the agreement he was going to be repaid when released.

In January the following year, the relationship between the pair deteriorated and Joshua began threatening to “stomp” Jesse if he wasn’t repaid the outstanding balance.

He followed through with the threat, bashing Jesse with a mallet on January 5 and leaving him with facial injuries.

“Now you know I aint (sic) playin, know this, That’s going to keep happening everytime I see you c--t until iv got what you OWE me back,” he sent in a text message following the attack.

Jesse Tovey (left) was jailed for 8 years and three months after stabbing his elder brother in the heart, killing him in January 2021. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Luis Enrique Ascui

Less than two weeks later, the pair had a run-in at their mother’s house in the early hours of the morning on January 18 when Jesse stabbed Joshua four times.

“You’re not so tough when you can’t sneako (sic) someone,” their mother heard Jesse say before his brother fell to the ground.

Joshua wandered off and was found by staff from a nearby Aldi a short time later in the carpark of a mechanics business.

He died a short time later.

Jesse Tovey, now 29, returned before the Supreme Court of Victoria on Tuesday for sentencing after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

The court was told he didn’t realise his brother was seriously injured when he left, later telling a friend that Joshua would be “pretty sore” but “alright”.

“Whatever passed between them in those crucial moments, Jesse Tovey is distraught at his brother’s death,” Justice Michael Croucher said.

“Further, on his own admission, he is criminally responsible for that terrible outcome.”

Joshua Tovey. Picture: Facebook
Joshua Tovey. Picture: Facebook
Jesse Tovey. Picture: Supplied
Jesse Tovey. Picture: Supplied

Handing down his sentence, Justice Croucher found Tovey’s culpability for the offending had to be reduced, taking into account the “appalling family violence and neglect” he’d been exposed to from a young age.

Justice Croucher said there was no evidence available that indicated who had brought the knife.

Tovey, a father of three, was jailed for eight years and three months with a non-parole period of five years.

Justice Croucher said Tovey, who told a psychologist he sometimes heard his brother’s voice saying “it's not my fault”, would likely wear “the mark of Cain” for life.

He will be eligible for parole in January 2026.