A man has admitted being the Mercedes Benz driver who hit and killed a 73-year-old man while drink-driving in 2019.
Stephen Papagelou, 29, pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday to culpable driving causing death after he ran down pedestrian Henry Ekselman just before 9pm on November 18.
Members of the victim’s family, including his children and stepdaughter, tuned in to the virtual hearing, with his sister watching over video link from Greece.
Papagelou’s lawyer said the financial services professional was “very keen” to plead guilty and that he “wants to say sorry and face the music”.
The Balwyn North man blew just under 0.075 after hitting the elderly man, police facts tendered to the court say.
He was seen downing three shots and three mixed drinks over two-and-a-half hours between 5.17pm and 7.34pm at the Prince Alfred Hotel, where his group were approached twice by staff about their “rowdy” behaviour.
He and his friends then shared a bottle of wine at a pizza restaurant before Papagelou got behind the wheel, police facts tendered to the court say.
A friend told him he was too drunk to drive and tried to get out of the car as she was “feeling unsafe” — but Papagelou “held her forearm and inched his car forward, obliging her to close the door”.
There were three passengers in the car with him at the time of the collision.
He was speeding through a traffic light as it changed from orange to red, overtaking another vehicle at the intersection of Daly and Chapel streets in South Yarra when he hit Mr Ekselman.
Papagelou “saw him at this moment and steered heavily to the right but struck the victim”.
The elderly man was thrown 15 metres and was “mortally wounded”. He died in hospital at 10.04pm that night.
Papagelou had only bought the silver 2018 Mercedes Benz station wagon four days before he hit Mr Ekselman, court documents show.
He was breath tested at the scene and arrested, becoming “so distressed that he required medical attention”.
He will next appear in the County Court for a plea hearing in June.