News

‘Snitch’ beaten with baseball bat

By Riverine Herald

AN ECHUCA man bashed a former friend with a wooden bat in a ‘‘terrifying’’ attack because he was a police ‘‘snitch’’ and had a bounty on his head, a court has heard.

Glen Matthew Calleja, 32, was sentenced to 158 days imprisonment and a three-year community corrections order in Bendigo County Court on Friday.

He pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, common assault and committing an indictable offence while on bail.

As the father-of-two has already served this time in custody, Judge Douglas Trapnell said it was a merciful sentence for serious offending.

The court heard on January 10, 2016, Calleja broke into an Echuca house of a couple he had known for about six months.

Judge Trapnell said Calleja walked inside the bedroom where the couple was sleeping and struck the male victim several times to the right knee, ankle and body, while yelling obscenities.

‘‘Two to three weeks later, you returned to the house and spoke with (the female victim) and apologised for ‘kicking the door in and running through the house’,’’ he said.

‘‘You told her ‘It has nothing to do with you. You’re the reason I didn’t shoot him. I wanted to’.’’

Calleja told her ‘‘You’re a good person. I didn’t mean to upset you. It’s only because of you I held back from hurting him worse’’.

Judge Trapnell said a rumour was circulating in Echuca at the time that the male victim had been helping police with an investigation and, as a result, there was a $2000 ‘‘bounty on his head’’.

‘‘You said you wouldn’t do it for the money but you’d do it for yourself,’’ he said.

‘‘Your motive for the aggravated burglary and assault was a result of your desire to punish him for helping the police ... and for being a snitch.’’

As his motive was ‘‘payback’’, Judge Trapnell described Calleja’s moral culpability as high, saying people who helped with police investigations should be ‘‘protected from criminals’’.

The court heard Calleja committed the offence while he was on bail for assaulting a former partner, and had a criminal history dating back to 2009 which included assaults, obstructing police, family violence and weapon offences.

Judge Trapnell said delay was a significant factor considering the case had taken two years to finalise through no fault of Calleja’s.

However, in that time he said Calleja had spent time in custody and managed to completely rehabilitate himself and turn his life around thanks to a ‘‘very supportive family’’.

‘‘It seems incarceration provided the wake up call you needed and to your credit you have taken the full advantages offered to you upon your release on bail to rehabilitate yourself and become a law-abiding member of the community,’’ he said.

Since his release from prison in late March 2017, Calleja had, thanks to his father, established a successful trailer manufacturing business using welding skills learnt in custody.

Using a gram and half of ice every day during his offending, Calleja has also remained drug free.

Judge Trapnell said it was a difficult sentencing exercise because of the seriousness of the crime combined with Calleja’s ‘‘determined effort to avail yourself of every avenue of rehabilitation available to you and you have been highly successful to date’’.

‘‘I consider it in yours and the community’s best interests that you are encouraged and supported in this,’’ he said.

Judge Trapnell said it was unlikely Calleja would relapse back into drug use and further criminal offending because ‘‘you simply have far too much to lose’’.

‘‘The sentence will maximise your prospect of rehabilitation while giving regard to general deterrence and denunciation and just punishment,’’ he said.

Calleja was also sentenced to three months jail for common assault, to be served concurrently, and convicted and fined $1000 for committing an indictable offence while on bail.

The CCO involves 600 hours of unpaid work.