16 August 2022

Drug dealer may have been shot in face because he was quitting bikies, barrister alleges

| Albert McKnight
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ACT Courts

Three accused are currently facing a Supreme Court trial related to the shooting of a man in Spence in 2021. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A drug dealer may have been shot in the face because he was quitting a bikie gang, jurors heard it alleged at the end of an attempted murder trial.

Sugimatatihuna Bernard Gabriel Mena and Bradley Joe Roberts, both 24, are facing an ACT Supreme Court trial that began at the start of August, along with 25-year-old Rebecca Dulcie Parlov.

On Tuesday (16 August), Ms Parlov’s barrister Keegan Lee said both the victim and resident of the home where the shooting took place were “admitted liars” and suggested they lied about what happened and who the shooter was.

He alleged the victim had been threatened by people associated with a motorcycle gang he was quitting in the days before the shooting – a gang that had nothing to do with the accused.

Mr Lee said the victim sent a message to a woman that showed he thought he was in danger before allegedly meeting Mr Roberts in Bonner in the lead-up to the shooting.

While the victim said he lied in these messages, Mr Lee suggested he had lied about this lying.

He also said the alleged motive for the crimes, that the accused thought the victim was a “kiddie fiddler”, was implausible and no message on the victim or resident’s phones supported it.

The drug dealer has already told jurors he and the resident were at her home in Spence in the early hours of 11 March 2021 when the three accused allegedly barged inside, accused him of being a “kiddie fiddler”, and Mr Mena shot him twice, hitting him in the stomach, arm and face.

The victim was put into an induced coma, had multiple surgeries and didn’t wake up until a week later.

The three defence barristers called no evidence after the prosecution’s case wrapped up on Monday (15 August), so Crown Prosecutor Trent Hickey moved into his closing submissions.

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He said a police officer told the court the victim had never been charged with any sexual offence against a child or adult and the accusation that he was a pedophile was “nothing more than a made-up rumour”.

Jurors heard a forensic chemist estimated the shooter would have been between half a metre to three metres away from the victim when firing the gun.

Also, a doctor had told jurors gunshot injuries to the face were often fatal and “it was just good luck” the victim’s injuries didn’t kill him, Mr Hickey said.

He said jurors could imagine how “utterly terrifying” it must have been for both the victim and the resident when the three accused allegedly barged inside and the victim was shot.

“You think I wasn’t scared for my life?” the resident said at one stage.

About 10 minutes after the incident, she was messaging a friend and was asked who shot the victim.

“Sugi did. WTF?” the resident replied.

Mr Mena’s barrister James Sabharwahl said this accusation could have been based on a suggestion previously made to her by the friend.

Mr Hickey said both the resident and the victim knew the three accused. She’d known Ms Parlov for years, knew Mr Mena as her boyfriend and had met both him and Mr Roberts several times.

The resident had also been on parole for a serious crime at the time, about which she had previously told a lie.

Mr Hickey said he assumed one of the accused’s lawyers raised this before the jury to try to undermine her credibility.

But, he said at one stage, she told a defence barrister: “I know what I’ve seen and I have to live with it day in and day out. I have to live with the memories, the dreams …”

A barrister also suggested she had to blame someone for the attack, and she replied: “Yeah, the people who did it”.

Mr Hickey said she was “clearly scared” in her first interview with police, where she told them: “You have no idea how much I want to help … you have no idea the risks someone takes in doing that.”

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Mr Hickey also said there was a “complete absence” of anyone other than the accused threatening the victim that night.

Barrister Mary Keaney said jurors should question whether her client, Mr Roberts, was actually at the scene of the shooting, as there was no forensic evidence implicating him.

Mr Sabharwahl also said his client’s flat was searched and nothing of interest was found.

Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson will give her directions to the jury before they begin to deliberate.

Mr Mena has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm and committing an act endangering life. He and the other two accused also pleaded not guilty to aggravated burglary.

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