Accused to decide

A MILLEWA-listed footballer accused of violently attacking his partner and threatening to drown her and her children in the Murray River faces at least three years behind bars if he pleads guilty.

The 30-year-old last month asked Magistrate Pauline Spencer to indicate the sentence he could expect to receive and yesterday sat with his head bowed as he appeared in the Mildura Magistrates’ Court by video link to hear the news.

Ms Spencer told the man she would sentence him to four years’ jail with a three-year non-parole period if he accepted responsibility for the alleged offending.

If he still wished to contest the charges, Ms Spencer said serious consideration would need to be given to hearing the case in the County Court, where a judge would have the power to sentence the man to a jail term longer than the five-year maximum a magistrate could impose.

The court previously heard the man attacked his partner at a Murray River campsite in late April, where the couple were staying with the woman’s two children, aged 11 and nine.

The man is accused of grabbing the woman by the throat as she sat in a chair by the campfire, throwing her to the ground and punching her to the head as she attempted to get away.

Police said the sustained violent attack saw the man hit the woman’s head so it clashed with her nine-year-old child’s head, as the child hugged her in fear.

The court was told the man swung a shovel around, hitting the woman in the head, while the two children hid.

It was alleged the man spat on the woman and the children during the ordeal, poked the victim with a burning log and also threatened to throw the woman and her children in the river and to burn their tents down while they slept inside.

Police prosecutor Lauren Abson yesterday read out a victim impact statement, which detailed how the alleged incident had affected the woman and her children, who were left traumatised by the violence they witnessed.

The man’s lawyer Bert Hilton-Wood said at 30, he was “not a lost cause for rehabilitation”.

But Ms Spencer was “guarded” about the prospects of the man turning his life around and said aspects of the allegations were particularly concerning, including “blaming and minimising” of what had happened and the use of a shovel.

“It is an extremely serious example of family violence, both in terms of the severity of the attack and the sustained nature of the attack over time,” she said.

The man was remanded to reappear in court on Tuesday.

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