A man who was left with serious injuries after a violent stranger attacked him with two metal bars in his own home says he is relieved the matter is over, with the offender imprisoned on Friday.
Cho Van Nguyen was sentenced in the County Court in Bendigo to five years and six months' imprisonment with a non-parole period of four years, after pleading guilty to recklessly causing serious injury, assault, possessing methamphetamine and possessing heroin.
In the early hours of November 28, 2017, a then-20-year-old man awoke to the sound of a man shouting and a woman crying in his Flora Hill home.
He grabbed a baseball bat and went to investigate, along with another occupant of the house.
They found Nguyen in the lounge room, wielding a metal bar in each hand and yelling abuse at a woman - both of whom were strangers to the occupants of the house.
The woman, Nguyen's partner, had run into the house to get away from him after an argument.
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The 20-year-old asked Nguyen what he was doing and told him to leave, and lowered the baseball bat to the floor in an attempt to defuse the situation.
But Nguyen became extremely aggressive and lunged at the man, hitting him in the face and head with the two metal bars.
The man tried to flee to his bedroom but Nguyen followed and continued to hit him, forcing his way into the room as the victim tried to shut the door.
Another occupant of the house, a 25-year-old man, heard screams and left his bedroom to see his housemate being assaulted.
When he asked what was happening, Nguyen hit him in the head with a bar.
Another man at the house came out of another bedroom and confronted Nguyen.
At this point he left, leaving one of the bars behind in the house.
Police attended and found the Sunshine North resident in the street.
They found a total of 14.7 grams of methamphetamine, 1.5 grams heroin and more than $3500 in cash on Nguyen and in his car.
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In a police interview Nguyen made admissions to his offending but downplayed his role, claiming he was attacked.
The 20-year-old victim suffered lacerations, abrasions, broken teeth, and fractures to fingers on both hands and his elbow. The court heard he continued to have issues with his teeth.
Judge Michael Cahill noted the young man, who was a student at the time of the attack, ceased his studies due to anxiety and needed counselling.
"[The victim] said he was in fear for his life when you attacked him," Judge Cahill said.
The 25-year-old man said in his victim impact statement that he was traumatised by what occurred and was fearful of being attacked.
Nguyen has a lengthy criminal record dating back to 1996 with prior convictions for violence.
The 41-year-old had been released from prison just eight months before the Flora Hill attack, after serving eight years for intentionally causing serious injury and armed robbery.
In March 2009, a video store employee in Richmond accused Nguyen's then-girlfriend of theft.
Two days later the pair returned with knives and Nguyen stabbed and slashed at the employee, leaving him with injuries that required surgery.
He was sentenced as a serious violent offender for that attack.
Nguyen's defence counsel Andrew Dickenson said the Flora Hill attack was not premeditated and came about in unusual circumstances.
Nguyen was using the metal bars to attempt to repair the car after a crash, Mr Dickenson said, when his partner ran away.
He said Nguyen was trying to retrieve his partner and took the metal bars for protection, but reacted poorly when confronted in the house.
When the 20-year-old lowered the baseball bat, he said, Nguyen mistakenly believed he was moving back to strike him.
The court heard Nguyen had a difficult childhood, growing up with a violent father. He was expelled from school in Year 10 and began dealing drugs.
Mr Dickenson said his client's guilty plea was a show of remorse.
A psychologist report noted that while Nguyen said he had little memory of the incident, he accepted culpability.
Mr Dickenson submitted his client should be sentenced to a term of imprisonment - up to 12 months on top of the 600-plus days Nguyen had already served - and a community corrections order.
But prosecutor David Cordy said the defence submission was unreasonable and a "salutary" term of imprisonment was warranted.
Mr Cordy said the attack was sustained and had left long-lasting physical and psychological injuries. "It is a very, very nasty incident," he said.
At a plea hearing earlier this week, Judge Cahill said he was sure he would be "falling into error" if he were to sentence Nguyen to jail and a corrections order.
"It was a vicious attack on people in their home, who were entitled to feel safe," he said.
Nguyen must serve a minimum of four years' imprisonment before he is eligible for parole.
On Friday he had already spent 605 days in custody.
Outside court, the man who bore the brunt of Nguyen's aggression on that night said he was glad the ordeal was over and he was sure the sentence was fair.
Judge Cahill said that if it were not for Nguyen's guilty plea, he would have spent at least five years and six months in prison, with a total sentence of seven years.
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