A magistrate has handed down a 19-month prison sentence for a man convicted of choking another man into unconsciousness.
Danny Klobucar, 34, appeared over audio-visual link in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday (3 April) and sat listening to proceedings with a silver crucifix around his neck.
A statement by the victim was read to the court by prosecutor Lewis Etheredge in which he spoke of the lasting physical pain and psychological trauma from the attack, saying that it “greatly affected my life”.
The victim spoke of suffering from nightmares and limited sleep, of not being able to zip jackets up to his throat due to trauma, continuing neck pain and muscle spasms and that the attack had affected his ability to carry out labouring work.
He also spoke of how he now only left home for “essentials”, such as groceries, and had thoughts of moving away where he would not encounter Klobucar or his friends and family.
“I don’t even feel like the same person,” he said.
The victim spoke of struggling to trust and feeling anxious when an unexpected visitor knows at his door.
“I don’t trust people and I don’t feel safe in life anymore,” he said.
Mr Etheredge argued the act was born out of a “high level of aggression and anger” and “could have had tragic consequences”.
He argued that the “vigilante-style retribution attack” occurred on 30 May 2022, when Klobucar and another woman arrived at the victim’s house.
He had noticed what he thought was a cigarette burn on a child’s leg, and when the child’s mother confronted the victim over the matter, he denied causing it.
Klobucar and the woman, along with the victim, went to another area on the property where the attack occurred.
During the attack, Klobucar choked the victim until he was unconscious and defecated himself.
When the victim regained consciousness, he sought first aid from a neighbouring property.
Klobucar had faced a jury trial in 2016 charged with murdering a 71-year-old grandfather, Miodrag Gajic, but was found not guilty by reason of mental impairment.
At the time of the killing, Klobucar had likely been suffering a psychotic episode from paranoid schizophrenia which included delusional beliefs about paedophiles.
Mr Etheredge described Klobucar as someone who had a “tendency to be violent towards older men he identified as paedophiles”.
There was “no evidence of remorse or apology” to the victim and he requested full-time imprisonment.
Klobucar’s defence barrister, Travis Jackson, submitted that his client was now taking medication and had a support network of family, friends and a partner that would support him.
He submitted that his client would have stable accommodation with his partner upon release.
Given the time spent in custody already, Mr Jackson called for a suspended sentence, with his client to be supervised if released.
Magistrate Robert Cook acknowledged Klobucar’s “challenging” childhood.
He witnessed violence in his youth, moved to live with his grandmother at age 13 and began to drink and use cannabis while a teenager.
Klobucar stayed in school until Year 10 and later enrolled in, but did not finish, a building course.
In giving his sentence, Magistrate Cook spoke of the need to deter similar offending to ensure community safety and respond to Klobucar’s past criminal history.
Klobucar was found guilty of charges of choking a person unconscious and possessing a drug of dependence at a Magistrates Court hearing, while he pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of stolen property.
Magistrate Cook convicted him and sentenced him to 19-months’ jail, suspended after he served 12 months’ to complete a 12-month good behaviour order.
The sentence was backdated to account for time already served. As Klobucar has been in custody for about 10 months, he will be released in late May 2023.
Klobucar was also fined a total of $1800 with no time to pay.
Once the sentencing was delivered, Klobucar asked to address the court and asked the magistrate to reconsider his sentencing and to release him immediately for several reasons.
He stated he had “no intention of coming before the courts”.
Magistrate Cook refused, citing the “serious nature of the offending”.
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