Shepparton News

Guilty plea over carjacking


- By Monique Preston

A man accused of taking part in a carjacking where two men were lured out, attacked and their car stolen, has been jailed for 31⁄2 years.

Baal Patrice, 20, of Melbourne, pleaded guilty in Shepparton County Court online to aggravated carjacking.

Prosecutor David Cordy told the court Patrice and a group of other people were involved in the carjacking of two people at Victoria Park Lake in Shepparton on April 6 last year.

Mr Cordy said one of the coaccused — a woman — called one of the two victims several times while he was working in Shepparton and told him to meet her at the lake that night.

When the victim and another co-worker went to the lake at 10 pm the woman seemed unsteady on her feet and told the two men she needed to sit down.

A group of five men, including Patrice, then approached the men, with those in the group holding a sword, an imitation gun and a metal bat.

The woman walked away and no longer appeared unsteady on her feet.

One of the two victims was surrounded by the men and hit with the metal bat.

Two of the men then ran after the second victim and pointed a gun at his head from 1 m away and asked for his phone.

That man was then hit with the sword and the pistol before the man holding the gun said ‘‘do you want to get shot?’’

Mr Cordy told the court Patrice, who was aged 18 at the time, ‘‘did not play a specific role in the offending’’.

However, the court heard he had called the woman who baited the men to go to the lake 15 times that day.

Some of the group then took the victim’s Nissan Patrol and drove to Melbourne, only stopping when the vehicle was rammed by a police car at St Albans.

Three men, including Patrice, ran from police, with one of them throwing a Samurai sword into a nearby yard, while another was found with an imitation gun.

A victim impact statement from the man hit with the bat, which was read to the court, said he still became anxious when people asked him to meet up with them, as the crime was a set-up.

He also said he felt anxious and ‘‘at times felt like he had posttrauma­tic stress disorder’’.

The victim also told how his insurance did not cover damage to the vehicle that was stolen and it had cost him $10,000 in repairs.

Patrice’s barrister Martin Kozlowski said his client’s role in the crime was ‘‘effectivel­y being one of an accomplice’’.

‘‘He caught the train to Shepparton and went to meet one person,’’ he said.

‘‘He made a very bad judgment call for remaining.’’

Mr Kozlowski said Patrice had a borderline intellectu­al disability, came from a disadvanta­ged background and was born in Egypt to South Sudanese parents.

He said while growing up in Egypt Patrice saw gun violence as a young child.

Judge John Smallwood sentenced Patrice to 31⁄2 years in prison, with a minimum term of three years.

He ordered the 518 days of presentenc­e detention be counted as time already served.

‘‘The Crown cannot allege you had a specific role or you were one with a weapon,’’ Judge Smallwood said.

‘‘There were weapons, the way the vehicle was driven away, and calls to the bait. I don’t accept you didn’t know.

‘‘This has clearly been thought through.’’

Judge Smallwood also referred to Patrice’s priors, including two assaults on strangers, as well as thefts of more than almost $4200 worth of items from three stores — with the carjacking taking place only months after Patrice was released from jail on the theft charges.

Judge Smallwood said it was clear Patrice had a learning disability and was ‘‘at the lower end of intellectu­al capacity’’.

He also said a Forensic Care report had concerns about his peer associatio­n with gangs.

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