21 August 2022

Hung jury in shooting trial dismissed with bail applications expected from accused

| Claire Fenwicke and Albert McKnight
ACT Law Courts

Bail applications are expected to be made after a Supreme Court jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on any charges facing three people. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A Supreme Court jury has been discharged after failing to decide on verdicts for three people allegedly involved in a Spence shooting.

The trial ran for more than a fortnight, longer than the original seven-day estimate.

The jury deliberated for two days but was unable to reach unanimous verdicts for any of the trio’s charges.

“[We] discussed the matter and felt there was no more discussion to be had to come to an agreement,” the jury foreperson told the court on Friday (19 August).

Justice Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson said she was “satisfied” the jury had spent enough time considering the facts of the case and announced, “your role as jurors is at an end”.

“This was a much longer [trial] than anyone had anticipated,” she said.

The trial was focused on the alleged actions of 24-year-old Sugimatatihuna Bernard Gabriel Mena, and his co-accused Rebecca Dulcie Parlov (25) and Bradley Joe Roberts (24).

When the hung jury was discharged, Mr Mena’s barrister James Sabharwahl indicated his client would apply for bail.

“It’s unlikely we’ll get a trial date this year,” he said.

Bail applications may also be made on behalf of Ms Parlov and Mr Roberts.

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It comes after the jury had heard the accused allegedly barged into a woman’s house in Spence in the early hours of 11 March 2021, where Ms Parlov and Mr Mena accused the victim of being a “kiddie fiddler”.

Mr Mena then allegedly shot the victim in the face, arm and stomach with a .22 sawn-off rifle.

“All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he pulled out a gun. Bam!” the victim told police about the shooting.

“I couldn’t believe that it actually happened.”

He was taken to hospital and put into an induced coma. He subsequently had multiple surgeries, including removing bullet fragments from his jaw, and didn’t wake up until a week later.

A doctor told jurors, “it was just good luck” the injuries didn’t kill him.

Crown Prosecutor Trent Hickey 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 he was a paedophile was “nothing more than a made-up rumour”.

Both the victim and the resident of the home where the shooting took place, who is legally unable to be identified, accused Mr Mena of being the shooter. For example, the resident was messaging a friend about 10 minutes after the incident when she was asked who shot the victim.

“Sugi did. WTF?” she replied.

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However, Mr Sabharwahl said this accusation could have been based on a suggestion previously made to her by the friend.

Ms Parlov’s barrister Keegan Lee argued both the victim and resident were “admitted liars” and suggested they lied about what happened.

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

The victim was an admitted “druggo” who said he had been driving around Canberra with the resident before the shooting, catching up with people for drug deals.

During the drive, they allegedly met up with Mr Roberts in Bonner, where the victim asked Mr Roberts “if he was the one who called me a pedo”.

He alleged Mr Roberts told him, “I’ll go get Sugi, then we’ll come back and whack ya”.

But Mr Lee said the victim sent a message to a woman that showed he thought he was in danger before this alleged meeting.

While the victim said he lied in these messages, saying he was “a fiend”, Mr Lee suggested he had lied about lying.

The case has been next scheduled for Monday (29 August) to begin the process of choosing a retrial date.

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