Bailed on man­slaugh­ter charge

The Tatura Guardian - - News - By Bar­clay White

An­gelo Pat Russo is a free man af­ter a mag­is­trate de­cided there was not strong enough ev­i­dence for him to face trial for the mur­der of David Ca­lan­dro.

But free­dom could be short­lived for the Tat­u­ra­man, 55, as he faces the lesser charge of man­slaugh­ter.

Mag­is­trate Daniel Mul­ing gave his rul­ing about 11.40 am on Thurs­day af­ter the con­clu­sion of the three-day com­mit­tal hear­ing.

In sum­ming up the ev­i­dence pre­sented to him, Mag­is­trate Mul­ing said he was of the view that no rea­son­able jury could con­vict the ac­cused of mur­der, but there was sig­nif­i­cant ev­i­dence for man­slaugh­ter.

Mr Russo pleaded not guilty to the lesser charge of man­slaugh­ter and was bailed un­der strict con­di­tions.

Dressed in the black suit he wore through­out the com­mit­tal hear­ing, he walked free from Shep­par­ton Po­lice Sta­tion on Thurs­day last week af­ter spend­ing most of the year be­hind bars.

He will next face court for the man­slaugh­ter charge at Supreme Court in Mel­bourne on Thurs­day this week for a di­rec­tions hear­ing.

In the mag­is­trate’s de­tailed rul­ing he made pointed to two key pieces of ev­i­dence from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the state­ment from David Ca­lan­dro’s son, 13, and the report on the ex­am­i­na­tion of the gun Mr Russo had when he al­legedly shot Mr Ca­lan­dro.

Mag­is­trate Mul­ing found that the ev­i­dence from the bal­lis­tics ex­pert, Lead­ing Se­nior Con­sta­ble Alan Pringle, helped back up the claim of Mr Russo’s in­no­cence.

The report on the gun found there were two ma­jor faults in the safety and bar­rel, which could lead to the weapon fir­ing ac­ci­den­tally.

Mr Russo claimed dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion the gun went off when he slipped on an egg­plant on the ground.

‘‘In this case, I ac­cept there is ev­i­dence that backs up what Mr Russo said,’’ Mag­is­trate Mul­ing said.

The state­ment from Mr Ca­lan­dro’s son, 13, who was sit­ting in the car when his fa­ther was shot, was de­scribed as ‘‘the only real eye­wit­ness’’.

In an in­ter­view Mag­is­trate Mul­ing quoted, the son told of­fi­cers any claim Mr Russo slipped was ‘‘a lie’’.

He also said he did not see the bar­rel of the shot­gun hit the win­dow, fur­ther con­tra­dict­ing Mr Russo’s ver­sion of in­no­cence.

There was emo­tional scenes in the court­room when fam­ily and friends of Mr Russo re­alised he would walk free.

But for the fam­ily and friends of Mr Ca­lan­dro, it could be a long time un­til they get clo­sure.

Out of cus­tody: Tatura man An­gelo Pat Russo was bailed yes­ter­day af­ter­noon af­ter a mag­is­trate de­cided he would not face a mur­der trial over the shoot­ing of David Ca­lan­dro. Mr Russo, 55, will ap­pear at the Supreme Court in Mel­bourne on Thurs­day charged with man­slaugh­ter.

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