Details have emerged in court about a man who allegedly attacked an 83-year-old woman in the bedroom of her Morwell home.
Clinton Hughes, 27, was refused bail during an application before the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday after the court heard a summary of his prior convictions and his history of assaulting vulnerable people.
The court was told Mr Hughes had been in custody on 85 separate occasions, granted bail more than 40 times and breached his bail conditions on six occasions.
Supported by his mother, Mr Hughes sat in the dock – surrounded by two custody officers – and did not react as details of his previous offending and allegations of the September 2018 incident were read in court.
Mr Hughes is alleged to have assaulted the woman in the bedroom of her Morwell home at about 6.20am on September 14 last year.
Police alleged he threatened to rape and kill the woman during the ordeal.
The court heard Mr Hughes allegedly broke into the elderly woman’s home after he believed there was a large amount of money on the premises.
Police told the court the accused allegedly ransacked rooms of the house before the woman called out to Mr Hughes – who she initially thought was one of her sons.
Latrobe Crime Investigation Unit Detective Senior Constable Mark Smith told the court the accused allegedly lunged at the victim as she rose from her bed, before he grabbed her by the back of the neck and held her head onto the mattress.
“The accused then threatened the victim and said ‘tell me where the money is or I will rape you’,” Detective Senior Constable Smith told the court on Tuesday.
“The accused … then picked the victim up by the throat and threw her to the ground [before] the accused then grabbed her by the throat and threw her onto the bed.”
Police alleged Mr Hughes then punched the woman multiple times to the head and body and told her to not look at him.
The court heard Mr Hughes allegedly stole the woman’s handbag containing personal papers, cards and a number of cheques.
Detective Senior Constable Smith told the court DNA located on a jumper seized by police a day after the incident “was found to be a one in 100 billion match to that of [Mr Hughes]”
On the evening of September 14, Mr Hughes is alleged to have attended a Crinigan Road, Morwell property where he handed over a number of cheques in the name of the victim as payment for money owed to four women at the address.
That same evening, police allege two of the woman and a man deposited the cheques at the NAB, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank branches in Morwell.
“A number of people have contacted the police and identified the accused as the perpetrator for the offence but have been too scared [to make] statements out of fear of retribution from the accused,” Detective Senior Constable Smith told the court.
Mr Hughes was interviewed by police at Morwell Police Station and charged with nine offences including making threats to kill and rape the woman, assaulting her and causing reckless injury without a lawful excuse. He was also charged with two counts of trespassing with the intent to assault a person, causing injury and stealing property.
Police told the court Mr Hughes had been in custody on 85 occasions for a “variety of offending” and had been granted bail 41 times.
“The accused has been heard by people bragging about the incident and what he did. [His] history shows he will not abide by bail conditions sought and [will] continue to offend,” Detective Senior Constable Smith told the court.
Police told the court Mr Hughes had a history of violence against vulnerable victims.
“The three previous victims the accused has been found guilty of since this incident, were against a 61-year-old man, his 54-year-old aunty and his 22-year-old ex-girlfriend,” Detective Senior Constable Smith said.
“The victim in this matter lives with extreme fear the accused may return to her address and follow through with the threats.”
But Mr Hughes’ solicitor, Tessa Theocharous, argued her client could faces delays of up to 18 months if he was remanded in custody and the matter went to trial.
She said Mr Hughes, who has an intellectual disability, would not oppose a personal safety intervention order and would comply with the conditions of his community corrections order he was placed on earlier in the week, if granted bail.
Ms Theocharous also criticised Victoria Police’s handling of the victim’s jumper which had been collected by police a day after the incident where Mr Hughes’ DNA had been located.
Police told the court the victim only told police about the jumper after a forensic examination of the scene. adding the strength of the DNA was “clear”.
Magistrate Rodney Higgins refused the application and said: “I don’t find any compelling reasons for his bail and therefore bail is refused”.