A MAN shot and injured a woman with a semi-automatic assault rifle because he believed she was part of a group burgling his rural property, a court has heard.
Abdul Elraoui, 71, appeared in the County Court on Wednesday where he pleaded guilty to charges of intentionally causing injury, conduct endangering life, and prohibited person using a firearm.
The court heard about 3am on June 11, 2019 two men and a woman drove from Bendigo to Elraoui's rural property in Mincha, near Pyramid Hill.
One of the men exited the vehicle and cut the lock that secured the gate to the property.
The man then returned to the car and reversed it about 120 metres up the driveway towards the house. The vehicle's lights were off.
One of the men told another to "go along" with what he said about being lost and needing directions.
They parked the car and all three exited the vehicle. The two men looked around the property, with one of them beginning to move a four-wheeled motorcycle towards the car.
Elraoui awoke and looked through his bedroom window to see the woman holding a mobile in her hand.
The court heard Elraoui thought he would be the victim of a burglary so he armed himself with a loaded semi-automatic assault rifle and went outside.
He walked along the footpath towards the woman and saw there were other people in the driveway.
The woman heard a clicking noise and walked towards it. She was standing there with her mobile phone, which was emitting a light, when she saw Elraoui crouching down on the ground while holding the firearm.
The woman called out, asking if anyone was there, and Elraoui stood up and aimed the firearm in her direction.
He said something to her but she could not understand him due to his strong accent.
Elraoui then shot at the light emitting from the woman's phone. The bullet struck her upper left arm near her elbow.
She dropped her phone and screamed out in pain. As she turned to run, Elraoui shot at her again, striking her left back area.
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The woman ran towards the two men and the car. They all jumped in the vehicle as the woman told the others she had been shot.
Elraoui followed the woman and shot at the car twice. The group sped off down the driveway but the driver lost control of the vehicle as it approached the main road.
The car collided with a channel in the road and the vehicle was projected towards the opposite driveway. The car was significantly damaged in the incident.
The woman exited the car and knocked on the door of the property. The owner of that house allowed the group to come inside and called 000 as the woman collapsed.
The court heard Elraoui walked to the damaged car. The witness waited for him to leave before he drove the three victims to an ambulance that was positioned some distance away.
The woman was taken to hospital in Bendigo. She needed surgery to have the gunshot wounds cleaned and closed. The injuries were not life threatening.
Elraoui was arrested and interviewed later that day at the Pyramid Hill Police Station.
He told police he had been a victim of numerous burglaries and thefts, and he thought the same offending was happening again.
Elraoui admitted to shooting at the woman and at the car because he was angry and he wanted the police to come and get them.
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Defence counsel Daniel McGlone told the court Elraoui lived a very isolated life at his property in Mincha after migrating from Lebanon due to the civil war.
Mr McGlone said the 71-year-old was now estranged from most of his family and had been experiencing anxiety and depression as a result of the spate of burglaries.
The defence counsel said Elraoui also had renal and cardiac issues, and he needed to be hospitalised earlier this year after suffering a minor heart attack.
Mr McGlone said prison would be more onerous for Elraoui given his age and medical history.
The defence counsel submitted a community corrections order would be an appropriate sentence.
But prosecutor Phillip Raimondo said given the seriousness of the charges, only a term of imprisonment was within range.
Mr Raimondo said Elraoui fired numerous shots at the victims who were not threatening any violence towards the 71-year-old.
The prosecutor said while he accepted jail would be more difficult for Elraoui, the defence could not argue that his mental health had a causal link to the offending.
Judge Gerard Mullaly adjourned the case so Elraoui could be assessed for a corrections order. But the judge told the 71-year-old there was "no promise" that he would escape time in jail.
The matter is due to return to the County Court next month. Elraoui's bail was extended to his next court date.
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