A Snake Valley man who threatened to kill his father has avoided a harsher penalty because of concerns Corrections Victoria could not fully support him during the COVID-19 ourbreak.
Magistrate Letizia Torres initially indicated she would sentence the 37-year-old man to a community corrections order, but she changed her mind after a defence lawyer said Corrections Victoria's support would be limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I am concerned there won't be a lot Corrections can do to support my client with the COVID-19 situation," defence lawyer Scott Belcher said.
The Snake Valley man, who The Courier has chosen not to name because he was not convicted, is a long-term schizophrenic sufferer and was managing his medication poorly when he became involved in a verbal dispute with his father about 6pm on March 6.
The Ballarat Magistrates Court was told on Thursday the man and his father were arguing about work on the Snake Valley property when the accused retrieved an axe from somewhere on the property.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Ben Jones said the accused returned to the house where the victim was seated in a dining area.
"The accused ran towards the victim with the axe raised ready to strike, jumping up onto a low verandah," Senior Constable Jones said.
"The victim stood and closed the sliding door. The accused stopped the swing of the axe just prior to striking the door and then ran to a caravan at the rear of the premises.
"The accused was heard to be shouting, 'I'll do ya' or similar words as he ran towards the victim."
Senior Constable Jones said the victim stated he feared his son would strike him with the axe. The accused's mother witnessed the incident.
The victim phoned police and members arrived a short time later. They arrested the man and transported him to the Ballarat Police Station.
A forensic medical officer advised police officers the accused, who had been drinking alcohol, was unfit for an interview. The court was told his paranoid schizophrenia was poorly managed at the time of the incident.
Mr Belcher submitted the 16 days his client had already served on remand was a sufficient penalty.
He said the man did not have a criminal history, he was now living with his sister and taking his medication, and he had shown remorse by his guilty plea.
The Ballarat lawyer urged the court to consider a good behaviour bond with a special condition the man continue to see his doctor and take his medication.
Mr Belcher said he was concerned Corrections Victoria would not be able to support his client adequately due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The magistrate said the incident was too serious for a good behaviour bond because the man was wielding an axe, he had been drinking, using cannabis and was not taking his medication.
But after the man was assessed as suitable for a CCO, Mr Belcher made his submissions again, which persuaded the magistrate.
Ms Torres told the man his offending was very serious and frightening but she was prepared to give him an opportunity.
"If you are holding an axe ... you are going to scare people," she said.
The man, who pleaded guilty to making a threat to kill, was sentenced to an 18-month good-behaviour bond which includes drug and alcohol treatment programs.
He was released from custody after spending 16 days on remand.
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