A VIGILANTE BURNED THE WRONG HOUSE
AN ECHUCA vigilante terrified an innocent teenager after breaking into the wrong home looking for an ice dealer during an alcohol-fuelled rage, a court has been told.
But it didn’t stop there — allegedly setting a fire in the lounge room before fleeing and mistakenly targeting another house.
Aaron Brooke, 35, appeared in custody at Echuca Magistrates Court on Tuesday, where he was refused bail.
He is charged with aggravated burglary (person present) and criminal damage by fire (arson).
Detective Senior Constable Darren Dean of Echuca Criminal Investigation Unit told the court after consuming three-quarters of a 700ml bottle of Vodka on Monday morning, Brooke decided to ‘‘become a vigilante and deal with people around town dealing in ice’’.
Det. Snr Constable Dean said Brooke texted some friends to get the addresses of known ice dealers, one of which was in Crossen St.
‘‘He was told to go to the last unit on the left-hand side. This was wrong,’’ he said.
About 3pm, Brooke allegedly started yelling obscenities out the front of the unit before walking in and yelling ‘‘come out you weak mongrel’’ and ‘‘I’m going to kill you’’.
‘‘A 17-year-old boy, who was in the shower, was petrified and remained in there until he heard the door close and assumed he’d left,’’ Det. Snr Constable Dean said.
‘‘He went into the lounge and discovered a fire had been set with various catalogues and papers on the coffee table. He used the towel around himself to extinguish the fire.’’
Two hours later, Brooke allegedly tried to break into another house in Pascoe St, but an altercation occurred on the porch between him and the occupant, a man in his 40s.
‘‘He was searching for a person but again got the location wrong,’’ Det. Snr Constable Dean said.
Brooke ended up with a laceration to his forehead, requiring three stitches, and an injury to his leg from a dog bite.
He was arrested in the street soon after and taken to Echuca police station, where Det. Snr Constable Dean said he made full admissions and was remanded in custody overnight.
‘‘He said, in an alcohol-fuelled desire to deal with ice dealers and an alleged person who had stolen from a friend of his he had taken it upon himself to deal with it,’’ he said.
Det. Snr Constable Dean told the court Brooke’s ‘‘downhill spiral’’ started after he discovered his former partner and mother to his two-year-old son was engaged.
He said Brooke’s attitude and taking too many sick days at work led to Simplot ceasing his employment at the factory until he had a psychological assessment.
‘‘He says he has depression and alcoholism and my concern is that leaving here he will be tempted to consume alcohol which will fuel his quite uncontrollable anger,’’ Det. Snr Constable Dean said.
‘‘He told a staff member last night he was lucky not to be able to access the firearms his dad has at his house, otherwise it would have been a different story.
‘‘He’s in a state of mind that if he has access to alcohol he’s not in control of making good and proper decisions.’’
Det. Snr Constable Dean said there were no bail conditions that would allay his fears of Brooke reoffending.
Representing himself in the dock, Brooke agreed Det. Snr Constable Dean’s statements were fair, but said he was a good father, loved his family and was extremely remorseful.
‘‘I’m absolutely scared stiff of where this is going,’’ he said.
‘‘I wasn’t thinking straight at all. I got fed up with the druggies getting away with things; stealing money from a single father of three. It’s just not on.’’
Brooke told magistrate Patrick Southey he planned to live with his parents if he was released on bail, but his father — who was in court — said he would not take him.
‘‘It sounds like your parents, who obviously love you and support you, are at their wit’s end,’’ Mr Southey said.
‘‘You don’t have anywhere to live and you haven’t shown compelling reasons (to be released on bail). The risks of you re-offending in an alarming way aren’t misplaced. Bail is refused.
‘‘This is a serious charge that has to go up to the County Court and you may well be looking at a jail sentence.’’
Brooke was remanded in custody to appear at Bendigo Magistrates Court on February 6 for a committal mention.