A MAN was left with serious head injuries and struggling to breathe following a bashing in Ballarat North last year, a jury was told yesterday.
Robert Linane had to be airlifted to The Alfred hospital, where he spent more than three months receiving treatment for a range of injuries including brain swelling which required part of his skull to be removed.
Robert Wayne Jeffrey, 51, appeared in the County Court in Ballarat yesterday, accused of the March 6 assault.
Council for Jeffrey, Michael Pena-Rees, said the defence position was simple: "Mr Jeffrey didn't do it."
"At the end of the day I'm confident . . . you'll have a doubt, a significant doubt," he told the jury about the allegations.
Mr Linane's partner Leanne Lawson was the only witness to give evidence yesterday, telling the court how her then-fiance had been at the back of their Walker Street home about 4.30pm when Jeffrey and three others allegedly walked in.
"I was playing on my phone and I heard a voice say 'this is too easy'," she said.
"I look up and Bob Jeffrey has opened the door.
"(I was) scared. I was sitting there frozen. I didn't know what to do."
Ms Lawson said the intruders went to the back of the house to find Mr Linane while she ran to her neighbours while calling triple-zero.
She said she could hear screaming and banging before Jeffrey and the others left the house.
"I ran to the back of the house and he (Mr Linane) was laying over the back door," she said.
"He was barely breathing and his eye was out of his head."
Ms Lawson said the assault followed an incident earlier that morning, in which a group of people gathered out the front of their house and made threatening remarks towards the couple.
She claimed Jeffrey was part of that group and said multiple windows had been smashed.
When Mr Pena-Rees disputed her evidence, Ms Lawson said she was stressed at the time.
"Robert's a very, very sick man and on the 7th (of March 2011) we still didn't know if he was going to make it," she said.
Jeffrey is facing charges of intentionally causing serious injury, aggravated burglary, criminal damage and theft.
The trial before Judge Tony Howard continues.