The West

Man jailed for bashing elderly man
Bashing victim Wally pictured as he recovered in Fremantle Hospital. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

A 21-year-old man who bashed a 73-year-old stranger with a baseball bat in Camillo last year and then gloated about it on Facebook has been sentenced to three years in jail for the "cowardly" and "brutal" drug-fuelled attack.

Robert Geoff Collard's victim Wally and his wife Janet, who do not want their surname published, said outside court the sentence should have been longer because the grandfather could have easily been killed.

Collard, who pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm, was also today sentenced to an extra seven months in jail after District Court Judge Anthony Derrick activated part of a two-year suspended imprisonment order for three assaults.

Those earlier attacks involved Collard and a co-offender wielding an axe and steel pole and in a separate incident Collard punching a female unconscious during a family feud.

Collard was also on another suspended imprisonment order at the time of the attack on Wally in October last year, which the Supreme Court will deal with next month.

The court was told today that Wally, now 74, was out walking at night looking for the owner of a lost dog when he came across Collard and a group of juveniles.

Collard pulled a baseball bat from under his jumper and repeatedly hit Wally over the head and on the ribs, back and legs.

Within two hours, Collard boasted about the attack on Facebook, calling himself a "madc... for going down the road and flogging some c... with a bat."

His Facebook page paints a disturbing picture in the lead-up to the attack, with Collard posting many messages of his boredom, drinking habits and desire to be violent for the sake of it.

Collard only stopped the attack and fled the scene after Wally, yelling for help, crawled to a nearby house and activated the security light, prompting the occupant to warn police would be called.

Collard's lawyer Stephen Gabriel said his client was "immature ... unsophisticated, naive and self-indulgent" and had taken an "unbelievably large amount" of amphetamines before the attack.

He said Collard had become "absolutely paranoid" on drugs and lost the capacity to think responsibly and rationally.

Judge Derrick found Collard showed no remorse or victim empathy and had an entrenched drug and alcohol problem.

He said the victim, who had previously volunteered as Santa Claus in department stores prior to this incident, feared for his life in the attack, had lost confidence and no longer had the active life he had before.

"In a cowardly way, you inflicted a brutal beating on an elderly man for no reason whatsoever," Judge Derrick told Collard.

Judge Derrick rejected Collard's claim that he had been provoked by the victim's racially abusive comments, saying there was no way a man of his age would have such remarks to the group of six people.

Outside court, Wally said: "I think he should have got more jail, if I didn't put my arm up (to defend himself) he would have killed me ... (or) an invalid in a chair now or smashed up for life ... another five minutes and I would have been dead."

Wally said he was determined to move on from this ordeal and reclaim his life, including a desire to volunteer again as Santa Claus this Christmas.

The 74-year-old suffered a badly broken arm, two fractured ribs, a fractured vertebra and bruising.

His wife Janet said outside court her husband was now a different person. "Hopefully the law and the sentence will make the man (Collard) a better person," she said.

Janet said despite her husband's attacker being drug-affected, he was still able to go on Facebook so soon after the incident. She said the Facebook boasting added insult to injury.

Collard will be eligible for release on parole in December next year.

The maximum penalty for grievous bodily harm is 14 years jail.

The West Australian

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