A man involved in the enforcement of a drug debt, in which an alleged ex-bikie was lured to a home and attacked with a baseball bat, claimed he only sent threatening messages to his victim because he was “trying to be tough”.
Omar Haddara had drifted apart from one of his co-accused until he was in hospital for an eye injury and saw him again, he told the ACT Supreme Court on Monday (29 August).
He said this old acquaintance told him the victim owed him money, so he agreed to help get it back.
“It’s Omar here. Debt has been passed to me. You have until tonight to pay what you owe. Try me,” Haddara said in one message to the victim.
Later, he messaged: “You’re a weak dog and your debt has just doubled and you’re getting flogged when I see you.”
The co-accused also messaged the victim and said he owed him $600 for cocaine.
But Haddara told the court his messages were just “tough talk” and he didn’t intend to carry out the threat.
“It was more just trying to be tough,” he said.
A woman called Jennifer Hanson was told about the debt and lured the victim to her home in Moncrieff on 26 August 2021 under the promise of drinks.
Haddara joined his two co-accused and another unknown person at the house. While he didn’t have a weapon, the other three were armed with a baseball bat, machete and knife.
The victim tried to flee when they went inside, but he was held on the floor and didn’t fight back when he was punched multiple times in the face and hit three times on the head with the baseball bat.
One man said, “Do you know why we’re here? We need the money”. The victim said he didn’t have any cash, but sent $800 to one co-accused via bank transactions.
A man also said, “let’s just put him in the boot”, but Haddara told them no because they didn’t want a “home invasion”.
Under questioning from his lawyer, Michael Kukulies-Smith of Kamy Saeedi Law, Haddara admitted he was there to provide physical assistance in case something happened because the victim was allegedly a former bikie.
The victim suffered injuries during the attack, but at one point, Haddara stepped between the others and the victim to try and stop him from getting hurt.
“I feel bad for him and I wish it didn’t happen,” he said.
“I’d like to say that those are not my normal group of friends. I got caught up in this mess.
“I don’t even really like those people.”
But he told the victim not to cancel a transaction he was making and not go to police or hospital.
During cross-examination, Crown Prosecutor Andrew Chatterton pressed Haddara on why he had become involved in the “drug debt”.
He said he “wasn’t thinking straight” at the time and felt like he needed to help his co-accused. He also said he was on medication after his eye surgery and had been taking Endone and Xanax, claiming the hospital wouldn’t give him enough, so he had to get them off “someone else” he knew.
Haddara denied knowing what the debt was about and that he had taken the debt on but pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated robbery by joint commission.
Justice David Mossop said Haddara, who owns a gardening business, didn’t provide a coherent reason why he became involved so his role and motivation were unknown.
But he said the Crown hadn’t proven Haddara assaulted the victim and it was clear he regretted his involvement.
Haddara has a criminal history that includes assault and theft, but his last offences were in 2013 and said “everything changed” in his life in 2014 due to the birth of his first daughter.
Justice Mossop adjourned to 7 November for an intensive corrections order (ICO) assessment.
Hanson, 28, has already been sentenced to a 16-month ICO on a charge of being knowingly concerned in the robbery.
Region has not named the two other co-accused as it was not immediately clear at what stage their charges were up to.