AN Echuca man who shot a man in the lower leg with a rifle before forcing him into the boot of a car, tying his hands together with electrical tape and driving around for six hours near Bendigo has been jailed for a minimum of four years.
Nicholas Stokes, 29, was sentenced in the County Court in Melbourne last month after pleading guilty to four charges including intentionally causing serious injury and false imprisonment.
The court heard Stokes, a second man and the victim “borrowed” a previously stolen Audi from a man in Bendigo on April 1, 2017 in order to drive to bushland on the edge of town to smoke drugs, believed to be ice.
The victim refused to allow Stokes to drive the car, so Stokes pulled out a rifle and ordered the victim to get into the boot. When the victim refused, Stokes shot him in the leg.
Stokes drove the car for about six hours, stopping occasionally to tie the victim’s hands with electrical tape and zip ties.
At 8pm, Stokes parked the car on the outskirts of Bendigo and left the victim trapped inside.
The victim crawled from the boot to the cabin, then into the driver’s seat before managing to drive away in the Audi.
His partner convinced him to go to Bendigo Health after seeing the bullet wound. He underwent surgery to remove the bullet, which entered 15 centimetres below his knee and travelled 22 centimetres to become lodged at the top of his ankle.
Police seized the car the next day and found blood on its interior.
The victim refused to make a statement to police until Stokes was arrested on July 25, 2017.
Stokes admitted to using ice and GHB on the day of the crime. He made a statement in September this year claiming he did not intend to shoot the victim, but “getting rid of him” had been discussed.
Judge Frank Gucciardo said this evidence could not be believed.
He said the crime was “abhorrent” and the victim had sustained “lifelong” psychological harm.
“He had been deprived of his liberty and shot. Such behaviour is abhorrent and deserving of just punishment,” Judge Gucciardo said.
He said the evidence from a forensic psychologist was that psychosis did not play a part in the offending.
Stokes was sentenced to seven years jail with a non-parole period of four years. He has served 485 days.
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