Jail sentence appeal for stabbing woman 10 times in Bendigo

Police on the scene in Green Street, California Gully, where Brent Nicholas Gilbert stabbed a woman 10 times. Picture: GLENN DANIELS
Police on the scene in Green Street, California Gully, where Brent Nicholas Gilbert stabbed a woman 10 times. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

A MAN who stabbed a woman 10 times in her California Gully home has appealed his conviction and jail sentence after claiming he was never given the chance to run a self defence argument in court.

Brent Nicholas Gilbert, 36, appeared in the Court of Appeal last week.

He was jailed in November, 2016, for 10 years with a non-parole period of seven years after pleading guilty to intentionally causing serious injury.

Gilbert visited the victim’s house on Green Street on September 11, 2015, with the intention of buying cannabis.

During the plea hearing in 2016, the court was told Gilbert became agitated when they were unable to find cannabis, and he attacked the woman.

Gilbert claims he acted in self defence – an argument that was not included in the plea hearing.

Gilbert was cross-examined in the Court of Appeal last week, and said he had not wanted to plead guilty unless his side of the story was included.

He alleged that the victim “lunged” at him with a knife, and Gilbert defended himself. He claims he stabbed the woman 10 times because she repeatedly attacked him.

Gilbert did not sustain any injuries, while the victim required surgery to a severed artery.

His grounds for appeal included that the sentence was “manifestly excessive” because he had suffered a deterioration of mental health leading up to the offence, he had been diagnosed with autism, he had a “difficult developmental history” and had good prospects for rehabilitation. 

Gilbert claims he told multiple defence lawyers in Bendigo about his self defence claim, but they did not tell him he was entitled to a contested plea in which he could challenge facts in the police summary while still pleading guilty.

When he pleaded guilty in 2016, he hesitated in the court.

“Because when they read it out in court, it said I ‘unlawfully’… did what I did. They used the word ‘unlawfully’ and I didn’t think that suited what happened,” Gilbert told the court last week.

He conceded that “there was a lot better way that I could have… defended myself” but continued to say he was in fear.

“I was… afraid for my life. I was scared,” Gilbert said.

Three lawyers who represented Gilbert were called to give evidence to the hearing. They discussed the course of events leading up to the plea, including that Gilbert’s actions went “far beyond self defence” and the self defence argument was not open.

In 2016, a police prosecutor described Gilbert’s crime as “vicious, sustained and cowardly” and “as bad as it gets”.

Gilbert stabbed the victim six times in the face area, and four times in the back.

Three justices of the Court of Appeal reserved their judgement to a later date.