Five-year jail term

The Cobram Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By Hay­den Thom­son

‘‘I hope they use a nice photo at my fu­neral,’’ were the thoughts run­ning through a 15-year-old schoolgirl’s mind while she was be­ing kid­napped at Co­bram Show­grounds last year.

Ba­rooga’s Scott Kel­berg, 32, was sen­tenced at the County Court in Shep­par­ton last week to five years in prison for the girl’s kid­nap­ping.

The court heard how the young vic­tim was walk­ing home from school at 4 pm on April 20, 2017 when the ac­cused stopped to ask her for di­rec­tions.

Crown pros­e­cu­tor David Cordy told the court the ac­cused got out of his car and grabbed her by her waist.

‘‘She started kick­ing and scream­ing, so he put his hand over her mouth,’’ he said.

Mr Cordy said when Kel­berg even­tu­ally got her into the car, he put a towel over the vic­tim’s face be­fore two pass­ing wit­nesses in­ter­vened.

‘‘Two males hap­pened to walk past as the at­tack was hap­pen­ing,’’ he said.

‘‘She heard the car start­ing and man­aged to jump out of the car.’’

The court heard how the ac­cused later text mes­saged his de­facto part­ner, telling her ‘‘I done that thing to­day, the cops are look­ing for me’’.

Later that night po­lice at­tended the ac­cused’s ad­dress and found the cloth­ing he wore that day had been washed.

Mr Cordy sub­mit­ted that the court must make an or­der for im­pris­on­ment be­cause sub­stan­tial and com­pelling circumstance oth­er­wise could not be found.

‘‘Here you’ve got an un­known com­plainant, mind­ing her own busi­ness and she’s lit­er­ally grabbed off the street,’’ he said.

‘‘It re­ally strikes fear into any par­ents or right-minded cit­i­zen. She would’ve thought she was go­ing to be raped and/or worse . . . they’re the thoughts he cre­ated in her mind.’’

De­fence lawyer Tom Lynch ar­gued the ac­cused was en­ti­tled to a re­duced sen­tence for plead­ing guilty.

‘‘This man was not him­self, the sep­a­ra­tion from his part­ner (con­trib­uted to his frame of mind),’’ he said.

‘‘He has limited ed­u­ca­tion up un­til the end of Year 9, there ap­pears to be no fa­ther fig­ure . . . my pri­mary sub­mis­sion is that time served (377 days) is enough.’’

Judge Ger­ard Mul­laly took his time to reach a ver­dict, specif­i­cally ref­er­enc­ing the wit­ness im­pact state­ments pre­sented by the vic­tim’s par­ents.

‘‘Her mum said ‘our fam­ily life as we knew it was al­tered for­ever’,’’ he said.

‘‘The vi­o­lent snatch­ing of a vul­ner­a­ble young woman cre­ates cor­ro­sive fear in our com­mu­nity. The fear you caused was con­sid­er­able and un­for­giv­able.’’

Kel­berg was sen­tenced to five years in prison with a non-parole pe­riod of three years and three months.

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