No bail in Mildura carjacking case

SIX witnesses will be called to give evidence about an alleged aggravated carjacking on Etiwanda Avenue at a committal hearing in September.

Taylor Stewart will contest the charges, with his defence counsel, arguing there was a dispute over the ownership of the car, among other issues.

Following Tuesday’s committal mention at the Mildura Magistrates’ Court, Stewart made an application for bail, which was refused.

Police informant Detective Senior Constable James Hobbs said the victim had previously lived at a Hornsey Park address and had been asked a number of times to move his Nissan Navara ute from the yard.

On September 11 last year, the victim and a friend, both in their 30s, hooked up the ute to another vehicle with the intention of towing it to a more secure location.

Sen-Constable Hobbs said while the pair drove along Etiwanda Avenue towing the ute, another car pulled into their path and Stewart, a stranger to the two men, allegedly got out of the car holding a 50cm breaker bar and told them he would “smash” them if they did not unhook the car.

The court heard Stewart claimed the car was his, and said “Brian” owed him $10,000 and the ute.

The informant said the accused threatened to shoot the pair if they called police before attaching the ute to his car and driving over the George Chaffey bridge into NSW.

Stewart’s defence counsel said CCTV, which showed the vehicles travelling across the bridge, could not identify the driver and at the time of the incident the victim did not have keys to the vehicle but rather had a screwdriver in the ignition and a damaged steering column. She also said her client appeared surprised when he was charged with the offences. 

Police recovered the vehicle at a residential address in Dareton where the home’s occupant told police Stewart had said he bought the ute “in town”.

Stewart was arrested in March by Mildura detectives in Bendigo as he was signing his bail at the police station.

While the ownership of the Nissan Navara has not been proved, Sen-Constable Hobbs said Stewart had an opportunity to state his claim to police but gave a no-comment interview.

Prosecution strongly opposed Stewart’s bail stating he was on bail at the time of the alleged offending which banned him from being within 100km of Mildura or leaving Victoria.

Magistrate Andrew McKenna said the aggravated carjacking charge carried a maximum 20-year sentence and the offending must be taken at its highest charge, stating he had failed to show exceptional circumstances for why he should be bailed.

He was remanded to appear at a 1½–day committal hearing set for September 11 and 12.

This story appears in Friday's Sunraysia Daily, 14/6/2019. To subscribe to our Digital Edition Click here