Shepparton News

Court told of victims’ ordeal


A man held a knife to one of his victims’ throats before dragging him from his car and stealing it and then leading police on a chase that reached speeds of up to 100 km/h along Watt Rd at Mooroopna, a court as heard.

Ricky Jai Atkinson, 28, pleaded guilty in the County Court to charges of aggravated carjacking and dangerous driving while pursued by police.

Prosecutor Philip Teo told the court Atkinson held a knife to the throat of a 69-year-old man as he demanded he get out of his car outside Mooroopna Primary School about 8.15 pm on April 27.

Atkinson pulled the man from the Kia Sonata and hit him in the head twice, the court heard.

A co-accused man pulled the victim’s 60-year-old wife from the passenger seat and took two mobile phones before he and Atkinson got in and drove off with another woman who was waiting out the front of the school. The two victims had just finished their work as cleaners at the school when they were set upon by Atkinson and his co-accused.

Almost an hour after the carjacking, police spotted the stolen car speeding through Mooroopna, with Atkinson behind the wheel. Police pursued the car as it ran a red light in McLennan St and reached speeds of 80 km/h in a 50 km/ h zone.

The court heard the stolen car then headed down Watt Rd as it travelled from Mooroopna to Kialla, reaching speeds of 100 km/h in the 60 km/h zone and crossing onto the wrong side of the road several times.

As police followed, the stolen vehicle reached speeds of 150 km/h in Riverview Dve, including a time when it crossed onto the wrong side of the road, and the police pursuit was called off.

The car was found abandoned soon afterwards in Davis Crt, Shepparton, and the three occupants were found in a house.

Mr Teo said Atkinson told police he had borrowed a friend’s car, but they had taken it back and his co-accused did not want to walk back to Shepparton from Mooroopna.

Atkinson told police the coaccused man gave him a knife and he admitted grabbing the victim and pulling him out of the car, Mr Teo said.

Atkinson’s barrister Tim Marsh admitted it must have been a “terrifying experience” for the two victims, but said the original suggestion for the offence came from the coaccused.

“(The co-accused) suggested taking the vehicle and gave him the weapon,” Mr Marsh said.

However, Judge Irene Lawson was having none of that excuse.

“Your client took great zeal with holding the knife to the throat of the victim, he pulled him out of the car and hit him on the head.”

Mr Marsh said his client had a mild intellectu­al disability and “struggled to reason and weigh up consequenc­es” and acted “impulsivel­y”.

He also told the court Atkinson had a traumatic life, living with his grandmothe­r from the ages of 11 to 16 and then essentiall­y couch surfing since then.

The court heard Atkinson started using drugs when he was nine years old and had “an escalating reliance on illicit substance”.

In the weeks leading up to the carjacking he had been using GHB heavily, and also methamphet­amines.

Mr Marsh asked for a combinatio­n sentence that would include jail and a community correction­s order, however, the prosecutor asked for jail.

Atkinson will be sentenced on October 6.

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