Shepparton News

Committed to stand trial

SHEPPARTON MAN PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO A STRING OF CHARGES, INCLUDING AGGRAVATED BURGLARY

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A man who allegedly twice had his home broken into in 11 days and had a gun pointed in his face has relived the ordeal in the Shepparton Magistrate­s’ Court.

Ashley Ricardo — giving evidence at a committal hearing for Shepparton man James Bamblett, 26, — said two men broke into his Coomboona bungalow early on July 10, 2020, before three men returned on July 21, when he alleged one of the intruders had a gun.

After being committed to stand trial, Mr Bamblett pleaded not guilty to a string of charges; aggravated burglary, aggravated home invasion, two counts of threatenin­g to inflict serious injury, four counts of theft, criminal damage, burglary, assault, theft of a motor vehicle and possessing a firearm as a prohibited person.

Mr Ricardo, who gave evidence via video link from custody, told the court he was in bed at 1.45 am on July 10 when he heard a car pull up outside his shed, which had been converted into a unit, before two men he did not know began searching outside. He said he went outside before the men produced a hammer and a tyre lever.

He said the men explained they were looking for a man who lived at the house on the property who owed them money for car parts, before they took him into his unit and stole his phone from beside his bed along with $500.

Mr Ricardo alleged the men then took him to the main house and searched for money, before returning to the shed.

He told the court he managed to run down the road, then hid for ‘‘15 to 20 minutes’’ after seeing the men drive away before returning to his home.

Three men, Mr Ricardo alleged, returned at 2.20 am on July 21 with their faces covered, with one entering his bedroom and hitting him. He said he hit the man ‘‘two or three times’’ during a scuffle in the room.

He said a man was holding a silver pistol with a silencer, with which he claimed he was struck in the face early during the alleged home invasion.

The court heard the men remained at the property for 20 to 30 minutes and ‘‘totally destroyed’’ the unit as they ‘‘went through everything’’.

Mr Ricardo alleged he had referenced Mr Bamblett’s family, to which he responded ‘‘if you ever say anything about me again, or my family, I’ll come back and shoot you’’.

He claimed Mr Bamblett had put the gun in his face.

The committal also heard evidence from police informant Detective Senior Constable ShaunMaree Brock who, under questionin­g from defence barrister Tim Fitzpatric­k, said records from July 10 allegedly showed Mr Bamblett access phone towers in Undera and Shepparton North about 2.30 am.

She confirmed Mr Fitzpatric­k’s assertion that meant Mr Bamblett could not specifical­ly be placed in the Undera area, only that he was within range of both towers.

She also told the court no firearm was located when Mr Bamblett was arrested and two photos of guns found on his Facebook page tendered as evidence did not show him in them, meaning they could be generic pictures.

A neighbour of Mr Ricardo’s told the court he came to his house at 7.30 am on July 10 and said two men had taken his phone and money, and asked him to contact his brother.

He said Mr Ricardo would also attend on July 21 at 5 am, telling him to ‘‘not stop ringing (Mr Ricardo’s brother) until he answered’’.

Mr Ricardo’s brother gave evidence, including attending the bungalow on July 21 and finding Mr Ricardo bleeding from a head wound.

Magistrate Mary-Anne MacCallum found sufficient evidence existed to support a potential conviction.

Mr Bamblett’s bail was extended to appear in the Shepparton County Court on September 15 for a directions hearing.

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