17 April 2023

Assailant who shot man in face sentenced to nearly 10 years' jail

| Albert McKnight

Sugimatatihuna Bernard Gabriel Mena, Rebecca Dulcie Parlov and Bradley Joe Roberts were found guilty in a trial in the ACT Supreme Court. Photos: Facebook.

The assailant who shot a man in the face during a north Canberra burglary has been sentenced to nearly 10 years’ jail.

Last year a jury found the shooter, Sugimatatihuna Bernard Gabriel Mena, and his co-offenders, Rebecca Dulcie Parlov and Bradley Joe Roberts, all guilty of their roles in the incident in Spence on 11 March 2021.

Mena did not visibly react when the ACT Supreme Court announced he would spend years in jail on Friday (14 April), but afterwards was seen staring at the floor.

Justice David Mossop said the victim had been driving his friend around while she was supplying drugs around Canberra when Parlov contacted her to ask for methamphetamine.

Arrangements were made for Roberts to collect the drugs, but when he met up with them, the victim asked if he was the person who had called him a paedophile and the pair got into an argument.

Roberts made comments like, “We’ll go get Sugi and we’ll come back and whack you”.

The victim and the friend were at her house in Spence when Parlov called her, wanting to know where they were and said she needed to speak to the victim.

Soon after, Parlov started banging on the friend’s door and said, “Open the f-king door, we’re coming in anyway”.

She shoved past the friend as she and Roberts entered then walked towards the victim, who picked up a knife. Parlov said to him, “Are you going to pull a knife on a girl?”

It is then that Mena entered, pulled a sawn-off .22 calibre rifle from his waist and shot the victim in the stomach. He reloaded and shot the victim in the face before the trio fled.

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The victim admitted himself to Calvary Hospital in Bruce. He was assessed as being in an immediate, life-threatening condition and was placed into an induced coma then had multiple surgeries to remove bullet fragments from his body. He woke up a week later.

Justice Mossop said he had suffered serious injuries and “it was extremely fortunate that they were not fatal”.

The court heard about the impact the shooting had on the victim at the trio’s sentencing hearing earlier this month.

“Every time I look in the mirror to shave, I relive the moment again,” the victim said.

“I hope that one day soon I can go back to living a normal life.

“But until then, I’m just taking it one day at a time.”

Justice Mossop said the overall motivation for the offending remained obscure, as while there appeared to be allegations that the victim was a paedophile, it wasn’t clear where these allegations came from or why the trio wanted to become vigilantes.

A prosecutor has previously described these allegations as “nonsense”.

The justice accepted the attempted murder was not premeditated, but said the offending in general was, as Mena had brought a gun along and had worn a mask.

He also said he was not satisfied that the trio had agreed to inflict violence when they committed the burglary, as there was a reasonable possibility that they wanted to scare the victim.

Justice Mossop said the methamphetamine use by Mena, now aged 24, had worsened when he was in his late teens and he had ADHD and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He also had a criminal history, including offences of violence and burglary and he had previously served time in jail.

He has been in custody since February 2021, but part of that time had been served for another sentence.

Justice Mossop said Mena had not expressed remorse and it was unfortunate that he had fallen back in with his antisocial associates and drug use.

At the end of the trio’s second Supreme Court trial in December 2022, Mena was found guilty of attempted murder and unlawful discharge of loaded arms.

Also, he, Parlov and Roberts were all found guilty of aggravated burglary.

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It was the second trial for the trio as the first in August 2022 ended with a hung jury.

Justice Mossop convicted Mena on his charges and sentenced him to a total of nine years and 10 months’ jail, which included the sentences for these charges as well as the imposition of two suspended sentences for previous offending.

His non-parole period is five years and five months’ jail, which means with time served he is eligible to be released from custody in April 2027.

Parlov will be granted bail on Monday (17 April) on conditions including that the 26-year-old travel to Orange, NSW and complete a rehabilitation program. She will then be sentenced on 5 June.

Mena was seen giving a wink and a smile to Parlov before they both left the courtroom.

Roberts, who is also in custody like his co-offenders, will be sentenced on 9 June.

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