22 November 2022

Man shot in face, left in 'life-threatening' state, attempted murder retrial told

| Albert McKnight
Courts building

Sugimatatihuna Bernard Gabriel Mena, 24, is facing a Supreme Court retrial charged with attempted murder. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A retrial has begun against a trio alleged to have been involved in an incident where a man was shot in the face and stomach, putting him in a week-long coma and what a prosecutor called an “immediate life-threatening condition”.

A previous trial had started against 24-year-old Sugimatatihuna Bernard Gabriel Mena, 24-year-old Bradley Joe Roberts and 25-year-old Rebecca Dulcie Parlov in August 2022, but “for one reason or other it couldn’t be finished”, Crown Prosecutor Trent Hickey told the 13 jurors when opening another ACT Supreme Court trial on Monday (21 November).

Mr Mena is accused of shooting the complainant at a home in Spence on 11 March, 2021. He pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges, while the two others pleaded not guilty to aggravated burglary.

Mr Hickey said it was alleged the latter two had barged their way into the house, where the complainant’s friend lived, and Ms Parlov called the complainant a “kiddie fiddler”.

Mr Mena is then alleged to have come through the door wearing a face covering, pulled out a sawn-off .22 rifle and shot the complainant in the stomach.

It is alleged he also said something about the complainant being a “kiddie fiddler”, then shot him in the face before all three fled from the house.

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Mr Hickey described as ”nonsense” the alleged accusation that the complainant was a ”kiddie fiddler”.

When Mr Mena’s barrister Slade Howell gave his opening address, he claimed that at the time of the shooting the complainant appeared to have been in the process of “blooding out” of a criminal gang.

He alleged that a few days beforehand, the complainant had messaged his partner saying he was being extorted and had been assaulted.

“Old mate says I’m going to need to come up with 750 in the next hour or s–t is going to hit the fan,” he said in one message.

“Because I quit with the boys it’s blood out so I have to bleed. But old mate said if I come up with 750 he’ll tell the boys I put up a good fight.”

Mr Howell also said that on the night of the shooting, the complainant had been driving his friend around so she could deal drugs. He said they had both taken drugs and the complainant said he had been “off my head”.

The barrister disputed the allegation that Mr Mena was the shooter, saying that in the complainant’s first interview with police, he didn’t say there was anything distinctive about the person who shot him, just that they had worn a jumpsuit.

Also, Mr Howell alleged while there was evidence of contact between Ms Parlov and Mr Roberts that night, there was no evidence of that type for Mr Mena.

After the shooting, Mr Hickey said the complainant had been dropped off at Calvary Hospital, Bruce, to seek help for his gunshot wounds, then walked inside with a towel on his face and shirt around his arm and admitted himself into the care of staff.

He was in an unstable and critical condition, so was put onto a breathing tube and when police arrived they saw he had “a round hole in his stomach”, Mr Hickey said.

He was ultimately placed into an induced coma, transferred to Canberra Hospital and treated by multiple specialists, including having bullets removed from his body while surgery was needed to repair the fractures to his jaw. He didn’t wake up until a week later, 18 March.

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Mr Hickey said a doctor was expected to tell jurors it was “incredibly fortunate” the gunshot injuries to the man’s face weren’t fatal.

When Keegan Lee, Ms Parlov’s barrister, gave his opening address he disputed the allegation that his client was at the house for the shooting and suggested the evidence would show the case was “not as clear cut” as Mr Hickey had alleged.

“You may think at the end of the case that there’s much more going on here,” he said.

Mr Mena has also pleaded not guilty to an alternative charge of attempted murder, intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm, as well as committing an act endangering life and aggravated burglary.

The trial continues before Justice David Mossop.

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