By Caitlin Bewley
(3rd Yr Swinburne Uni)
Handcuffed and flanked by two police officers, Love Close resident, and owner of former Jackie Chan the ram, Godwin Aquilina (pictured) has again appeared in the Bacchus Marsh Magistrates court.
The 54-year old returned to court for a bail application after spending the last seven-months in custody.
Mr Aquilina, head shaved and dressed in a white t-shirt and pants, clearly showed a healthy weight gain and a calm demeanour. He was also supported in court by family members including a sister and brother.
Previously Mr Aquilina was refused bail as he was described as an “unacceptable risk”.
Nine charges are pending, dating back to 5 May 2018 with his lawyer asking the court on Friday 17 January for Magistrate Bob Kumar to consider granting bail, saying that he has “new facts and circumstances” that would support Aquilina’s request.
Police Prosecutor Sgt Ivan Blomley summarised the nine pages of offending that included “stalking a female councillor Tonia Dudzik”.
Bromley told the court Dudzik was conducting a community sausage sizzle outside Wilson’s Hardware in Maddingley when she felt a “sharp jab in her back”.
“Dudzik looked around with Aquilina present, however she could not say for sure if it was the accused,” the prosecutor said.
Aquilina’s lawyer said his client is a “vulnerable adult with physical and mental impairment[s]”, after sustaining an acquired brain injury earlier on in life, the court heard.
Magistrate Kumar told Aquilina he has a very experienced lawyer.
“You have spent six-months in custody, if you want to take the matter to a contested hearing, there is no guarantee you get a longer sentence – you understand that?”
“I would be happy with that,” Aquilina replied.
“Common sense should prevail. This matter could be resolved,” Magistrate Kumar said.
Aquilina was granted bail, with strict conditions, a $5000 surety and was released to reside at 4 Love Close and must comply with all court orders, until his next court appearance on 1 May.
Reporting to police daily, refrain from contacting or talking to witnesses and not allowed to drive any motor vehicle were just part of the conditions.
Magistrate Kumar was made aware by the prosecution that Aquilina’s house had burnt down whilst he has been in custody.
The accused’s lawyer said there is a shed on the property.
“Can he reside in the shed?”, the Magistrate asked.
“He also has a caravan, the family will be bringing it down from Shepparton,” the lawyer said.
Magistrate Kumar asked Aquilina to stand and said any breach and you come back to court.
“You would be a very foolish man if you do. Do you understand”? he said.
“I do your Honour, thank you.” Aquilina replied.
Moorabool Council were asked if under their own by-laws, is it legal for a person to ‘camp’ on a residential property with no visible amenities ie toilet, shower connected running water?
“This is a very complex matter and Council is working through how best to resolve it in the interests of neighbouring residents and the property owner,” a spokesperson replied.