Gun put to head in theft dispute

A 30-year-old man who used a gun to confront a man he thought had stolen items from a mine he invested in will be sentenced later this month.

A County Court sitting at Ballarat heard the accused, Benjamin Schreuder, confronted the man at another small Daylesford mine after being told they had been allegedly involved in a number of thefts and arson at the mine he had invested thousands of dollars into.

Crown prosecutor Andrew Moore told the court Schreuder and co-accused, Shane Buckley, drove to the mine on July 20, 2015 where they first confronted a woman who was working there at the time. Mr Moore said Schreuder grabbed the woman around the neck and held the handgun to her head while demanding to know where her phone and any weapons were located.

A short while later the men confronted the manager of the mine and asked about the items alleged to have been stolen and hidden somewhere on the property.

The court heard Buckley, who was on a suspended sentence at the time, was carrying an extended baton.

The court heard after looking around the property, Schreuder eventually realised none of the stolen items were there. Schreuder has pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, two counts of common law assault, theft, possession of an unregistered handgun and unlawful assault.

Buckley, 29, has pleaded guilty to intentionally assisting/encouraging Schreuder to steal the phone and assault the mine’s manager, as well as unlawful assault.

Schreuder’s barrister, Heath Barclay, said the mine his client had invested in was subject to arson and thefts which he was led to believe the manager of the other mine was involved in.

Mr Barclay said Schreuder’s primary purpose of going to the mine was to see if he could find any stolen goods, and only went armed because he had been given the gun by the owner of the mine he had invested in and told they may be armed.

The court heard Schreuder had been a hard-working, respectful and a caring man who had never shown any violence before.

“He went about conducting himself in a way that contradicted the way he has acted his entire life,” Mr Barclay said about his client’s behaviour on the day.

He urged Judge Mark Gamble to take into account his client’s stress at the time which impacted his ability to think logically. The hearing will continue on March 28.