Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Drive-by shooter's sentencing adjourned

A Moama man convicted of a drive-by shooting in May has had his sentence adjourned until February.

December 24, 2012 4:10am

Despite being found guilty of a drive-by shooting, Moama’s Kyle Verhey will be allowed to spend Christmas with his family.

In Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Friday, Mr Verhey, 24, was convicted on three charges related to the May 23 North St shooting, in which two people were injured.

However, magistrate William Gibb adjourned his sentencing until February 26 so Mr Verhey could undergo a psychological report and neuro-psychological report first.

He was given bail until sentencing, despite objections from the police prosecutor.

Mr Verhey was found guilty of reckless conduct endangering life, recklessly causing serious injury and recklessly causing injury.

Five other alternate charges were withdrawn.

In handing down his findings, Mr Gibb said he had ‘‘weighed up the evidence with an abundance of caution’’ after witnesses changed their accounts from statements at the time of the shooting to when they gave evidence at the trial.

‘‘The court viewed witnesses and assessed witnesses,’’ he said.

‘‘We placed every weight we feel could be placed on witnesses.’’

Mr Gibb said the case ‘‘rises and falls’’ on the evidence given by Christopher Abbott, who had initially been a co-accused, but later had all charges against him dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Mr Abbott gave evidence at the two day hearing in Echuca on December 5 and 6 that he had been a front seat passenger in a car being driven by Mr Verhey when Mr Verhey pulled a gun out from beside the driver’s seat and shot at Robert Cooper outside a North St, Echuca, house.

Mr Gibb said while Mr Abbott was a self-confessed liar, he believed the evidence he gave was in line with a statement to police a few months after the event.

‘‘There was no question he had knowledge of the circumstances (surrounding the shooting),’’ Mr Gibb said.

‘‘There is no doubt Mr Abbott was in front of an Echuca address in which a firearm was discharged.’’

‘‘It is my view there’s nothing contained in Mr Abbott’s history that shows it is impossible for him to give a truthful version in court,’’ Mr Gibb said.

He said while the victims, Robert and Ada Cooper, who were both injured in the shooting, failed to identify Mr Verhey as the shooter during their testimony, they both identified Mr Abbott as sitting in the passenger seat of a white sedan when the shot was fired — in line with Mr Abbott’s testimony.

He said he relied on Mr Cooper’s police statement made at the time of the shooting that said Mr Abbott was in the passenger seat and Mr Verhey was driving the vehicle, after Mr Cooper was declared a hostile witness by the prosecution.

Mr Gibb said he was satisfied a 410 shotgun was used in the shooting and he accepted evidence given by Mr Verhey’s then housemate, Jeremy Glanville, that Mr Verhey was in the same room when he saw a 410 shotgun in the loungeroom of their home in Mitchell St, Echuca.

‘‘When Mr Glanville came out from the toilet, Mr Verhey and the 410 were no longer seen,’’ Mr Gibb said.

‘‘It is clear from the evidence of Mr Glanville that the accused had the opportunity to take the gun and place it in the vehicle, next to the driver’s seat, without Mr Abbott’s knowledge.’’

Mr Gibb gave Mr Verhey bail until his sentencing, with the conditions he live with his mother in Moama, not contact witnesses and report to Echuca police three times a week.

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