Wendouree shooting spree: gunman faces court

A man responsible for a three-day shooting spree on Learmonth Road pleaded guilty to three charges of conduct endangering life in the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Edward Farquhar used a rifle and silencer to randomly shoot at three vehicles from February 4 to 7.

On two occasions the shots came close to hitting drivers or passengers in the cars struck by the bullets.

Farquhar shot at vehicles from his car port, before a six hour siege ended in his arrest on February 7.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Kathleen Hewitt said one of the bullets, which struck the top left of a car door frame, had missed entering the driver’s window by just one centimetre on February 4.

“The victim was driving along Learmonth Road, Wendouree, alone and with the window down, when she heard a loud bang next to her head as the bullet pierced the car,” she said.

“She stopped a short distance away and called her husband and police.”

Senior Constable Hewitt said Farquhar had made full admissions to police, but also said he was paranoid and people were following him at the time of the shooting.

It was followed by a shooting the next day, when one of Farquhar’s shots hit the rear passenger side of a car carrying multiple people.

Magistrate Mark Stramann said the 52-year-old was lucky he had not killed someone during the shooting spree.

“The impact on the victims has been significant,” he said.

“Shells from your gun have come very close to people’s bodies.

“These are life changing events – I don’t know if you have had a bullet whistle past your ear – it is not something you forget.”

Sentencing was adjourned to Friday, July 14.

Two female victims submitted impact statements, however only one was read in court.

Magistrate Stramann read the statement, which said the woman was now scared of using cars.

“Any unexpected noise is frightening,” the statement said.

“What if the trigger had been pulled a second earlier? I or my husband could have been killed.”

The woman also said she had difficulty eating due to an injury sustained from glass shattered by the bullet and she often had nightmares.

Magistrate Stramann also questioned why Farquhar owned a silencer.

Farquhar has been in custody since his arrest in February.

Defence counsel Giselle Nehma said her client had not shot at any specific target on Learmonth Road during any of the incidents.

“He was shooting into mid-air and unfortunately made contact with the vehicle,” she said.

“The offending lacks criminal intent, but yes he was reckless.

“I cannot stress enough to the court Mr Farquhar is not appropriate for jail – custody serves no other benefit when Mr Farquhar’s mental health was the driver of the offending.”

Miss Nehma said her client had been weening himself off anti-depressants, as his doctor instructed, before the shootings occurred.

She also said he had no relevant prior criminal history.

Farquhar also pleaded guilty to firearms charges because his licence had expired and the rifle was unregistered.

Magistrate Stramann ordered the rifle, ammunition and silencer be forfeited.

Two victims will also receive $578 and $524 in compensation respectively.

The final sentence was adjourned to allow a report on Farquhar’s suitability for a corrections order to be prepared.

Magistrate Stramann said in his view the serious offending was appropriate for imprisonment and a community corrections order.

“I appreciate your client has come to court today and expressed remorse,” he said.

“The offending in my view is very serious and your client is lucky he is not sitting in the Supreme Court.”

The prosecution applied for DNA from Farquhar but a decision was deferred until sentencing.