Jail for shop owner who shot and killed portrait seller, stored body in wheelie bin for 17 years

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John Spencer White pleaded guilty to manslaughter in April.

A Melbourne shop owner who shot dead a graphic artist with an unregistered gun before hiding his body in a wheelie bin for 17 years has been sentenced to six years and six months in jail.

Key points:

  • John Spencer White has been given a non-parole period of three years and six months
  • White has said he shot John Christianos after the artist pulled a knife on him
  • The body of his victim was only found when a storage facility closed down last year

John Spencer White dumped John Christianos’s body in the bin in 2001, where it then sat undiscovered, covered by grass clippings, inside a storage unit in Melbourne’s south-east until 2018.

White pleaded guilty to manslaughter in April after admitting he shot and killed Mr Christianos during an alcohol-fuelled argument in 2001.

He has been given a non-parole period of three years and six months.

White stopped paying the rent on the Oakleigh South storage unit soon after dumping the body, and later moved to Queensland to retire.

It was not until the owner of the facility sold the property last year that workers emptied it and discovered Mr Christianos’s remains.

Mr Christianos, who was 40 when he was killed, was a graphic artist who police said was known to be a skilled caricaturist.

Police gather in a circle while police tape cordons off an area of a warehouse.

The trial heard he sold portraits of champion footballer Gary Ablett and cricket legend Don Bradman in White’s memorabilia shop at Malvern East.

He also lived at the business with White for a period of time before moving to Bentleigh East, where he was living at the time he was killed.

The court heard the men went to a pub in Caulfield together on the night of Mr Christianos’s death and returned to White’s business to continue drinking.

They began arguing before Mr Christianos pulled out a knife, the court heard, prompting White to arm himself with a gun.

He shot Mr Christianos twice in the chest, killing him.

The court heard Mr Christianos had a history of being violent and acting irrationally, and had been banned from a number of local pubs.

Police held a public appeal for information at the time he went missing, and had believed it to be suspicious.

White was arrested in the Sunshine Coast following the 2018 discovery of the body.