Couple high on ice ‘terrorise’ man
A mum has broken down in tears while listening in court to how she and her partner barged into a farmer's home and threatened him with a nail gun before hitting him 10 times around the head and stealing his phone, iPad, and cash.
Tammy Innes and her de facto partner Stuart DeWitte, 28, both of Dennington, west of Melbourne, pleaded guilty on Thursday to a combined six charges including false imprisonment, aggravated burglary, assault and theft.
County Court judge David Sexton heard how at 2.05am on March 29, 2019, Innes knocked on the door of the man, who lived alone on an isolated farm near Warrnambool, and pushed him out of the doorway.
Her lawyer Graeme Davis said she had taken an "enormous" amount of ice when she forced her way into the man's home because she believed he had committed a sexual crime against a child.
The court did not hear any evidence the victim had committed any sex crimes.
Innes' partner DeWitte arrived shortly afterwards, also heavily under the effects of ice, the court heard.
The court heard from the man's victim impact statement that he had gone to bed "full of joy" that night because Collingwood had won, with no idea of what was about to happen.
DeWitte came in with a nail gun, and Innes grabbed a knife.
DeWitte threatened to nail the victim to the wall and to nail his fingers and toes.
He also fired the nail gun at random to intimidate and frighten the man.
Innes thrust the knife between the victim's fingers - without actually cutting him - and carved the word "pedo" into his table.
She also hit him around the head 10 times, knocking his false teeth out onto the ground, the court heard.
Prosecutor Holly Baxter said they "terrorised" the victim for over an hour before leaving with his iPhone, iPad, two credit cards, a Dyson vacuum cleaner, about $280 in cash, along with a threat from DeWitte that they would nail him to the ground and burn his house down if the victim called the police.
TERRIFYING ORDEAL FOR VICTIM
In his victim impact statement, the man outlined how he thought he was going to die, and how he was only able to keep calm during the terrifying ordeal through prayer.
He said he couldn't go back to his home on the farm, which he had worked hard to maintain all his life and which was "precious to him," because of the horrible memories.
He didn't feel capable of playing the guitar in a group he was part of, which performed songs at nursing homes.
He had since been staying with a friend, too scared to go anywhere by himself and plagued by night terrors and anxiety-induced asthma attacks in the middle of the night, and said, "Will I ever be well enough to live independently again?"
When police searched the young mum and dad's home they also found six cannabis plants and an amount of dry cannabis.
The pair were arrested and remanded, and have been in prison since April 5, 2019.
COUPLE LIVED LIFE OF DESPAIR
Mr Bhattacharya said DeWitte was "really, really sorry" and had been proactively engaging with drug treatment and mental health treatment in jail.
He said DeWitte was having a rough day because his dog died and he had smoked ice with his brother to console himself.
He said DeWitte had been using "drugs of dependence" since childhood including cannabis, ice and heroin, and had mental health problems, but that this act of violence was "out of character."
He said it had been extremely difficult for him in prison as his kids hadn't been able to visit due to coronavirus restrictions.
Mr Davis said Innes was in a drug and alcohol unit in prison and has been trying to overcome her addiction, and that she had "managed to avoid DHHS" by providing a stable home for her children despite her "dreadfully drug-addicted and chaotic existence."
He said her life had been "despairing incident after despairing incident" including her mother introducing her to opiate drugs when Innes was "not even a teenager."
"She's a woman who has not enjoyed much happiness in her life," he said, detailing how Innes "collapsed into a flood of tears" when asked about what she had done and how she was separated from her children by being in jail.
"It's one of the all-too-frequent - in fact, almost mundane, in the County Court - examples of dreadful behaviour under the effect of methylamphetamines," he said.
The sentencing was adjourned until September 23.
Originally published as Couple high on ice 'terrorise' man