Man jailed after 15 years

A MAN’S criminal past came back to bite him yesterday when he was jailed for offences committed more than 15 years ago.

Russel Watti, 40, of South Australia, pleaded guilty to charges of burglary and assaulting a police officer in Mildura in 2001 when he faced Mildura Magistrates’ Court.

Police prosecutor Al Heintze told the court that one day in March 2001, Watti broke into a Mildura liquor store about 5.30am and stole alcohol, before going to a home to look for his partner.

Police were informed Watti might be at the home after they attended the burglary scene. 

Watti had arrived at the house covered in blood and cuts, the court heard, and when police arrived he was sitting on a mattress surrounded by cans of alcohol.

He refused to acknowledge he had done anything wrong and swung his fist at an officer who was attempting to arrest him.

Watti then kicked the officer in the groin, causing him to fall back in excruciating pain, the court heard. 

He was eventually handcuffed and, as police were trying to remove him, he headbutted the officer.

The court heard Watti was taken to hospital, where he caused further problems.

Defence counsel Hugh Middleton said Watti was now living in South Aust­ralia and had worked to rehabilitate himself in the past 15 years.

Magistrate Nunzio La Rosa said the offences were almost a “lifetime ago” for Watti and his life appeared to be in a different place to when the offences were committed, during a significant alcohol addiction.

He sentenced Watti, who has served 84 days behind bars so far, to five months’ prison. 

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