Farmer snaps and holds wife of 25 years prisoner using shotgun

A 51-year-old farmer armed himself with a shotgun and imprisoned his former wife in their family home during an assault that lasted several hours.

The man, who The Courier cannot name for legal reasons, “snapped” on the morning of September 20 after he and his wife of 25 years had been involved in an ongoing dispute.

The Ballarat region farmer pleaded guilty at the Ballarat Magistrates Court on Thursday to false imprisonment and assault with a weapon.

An agreed police summary tendered to the court states the incident lasted several hours and ranged from verbal and mental abuse, escalating to physical assault and false imprisonment. 

The man’s assaults included poking his wife with a stick in the chest area saying, “if you push my buttons, this is what you get”.

At one point the man’s wife and son went into a bedroom when the accused entered with a 12-gauge shotgun.

He pointed it towards the roof, ordering them to go out to the kitchen and sit at the table.

The police summary says the man’s wife attempted to leave but the accused pushed her to the ground, closed the door to the hallway, stopping her from leaving. 

He then blocked the door with a chair.

During the ordeal the man wrapped a towel around his head saying, “this is what you do so your brains don’t splatter everywhere”. 

He then placed the towel on his wife’s head and she believed he was going to shoot her.

Defence lawyer Scott Belcher said his client’s behaviour was a serious example of family violence with aggravated features including the shotgun.

He accepted an immediate jail term was an option despite the man not having a prior criminal history, but urged the court to consider a community corrections order.

Mr Belcher said there was a risk the message to the community and specific punishment might initially overwhelm any argument about rehabilitation.

He said there were frustrations brewing between his client and his former wife before the incident escalated.

Magistrate Ronald Saines told the man it was bad enough his wife felt her life was at stake, but more damaging if his son saw his father murder his mother.

He said the man snapped on this occasion, but was otherwise a man of good character with no criminal past. 

The man was sentenced to a two-year community corrections order, convicted and fined $4000.