Monday, July 7, 2008

Chopper's mate accused of $10 debt threat

An associate of Mark "Chopper" Read threatened to chop a man's head off with a meat cleaver over a $10 debt, a court has been told.

Ken Pennant then handed himself into police after they left a business card for him at his local pub.

Pennant, 42, of Collingwood, was granted bail today after appearing in Melbourne Magistrates Court charged with armed robbery, intentionally causing injury and recklessly causing injury.

It was alleged that on June 19 he went to the home of a man in the Collingwood housing estate in inner-Melbourne and demanded $10 from him.

Giving evidence at today's hearing, Senior Constable Craig McEvoy said Pennant then produced a meat cleaver.

"The defendant has stated that the victim owes his partner $10," Snr Const McEvoy said.

"The defendant has produced a meat cleaver from behind his back and began swinging it in the direction of the victim.

"As the defendant was swinging the meat cleaver he was stating, 'I will chop your fing head off'."

Snr Const McEvoy said the victim was struck on the left hand and received a cut to his torso.

The court heard that at the time of the alleged offence Pennant was planning to travel to Queensland with notorious former criminal Chopper Read "for the purposes of security".

Snr Const McEvoy said he had concerns for the safety and welfare of the victim if Pennant was released on bail, saying the victim feared retribution from Pennant and suffered anxiety and had trouble sleeping.

However, questioned by defence legal aid lawyer Fiorella Fabian, Snr Const McEvoy agreed several stipulated bail conditions would help allay his concerns.

Ms Fabian said her client would be pleading not guilty and requested bail on various conditions, including that he not take his planned trip with Read.

"Despite having a gig with Chopper Read, helping him either in reading his poetry or displaying his artwork ... you don't want him to go interstate," Ms Fabian said to Snr Const McEvoy.

Ms Fabian said with the current backlog of cases at the County Court, it was "reasonable to think that this man's trial might not be heard until possibly 2010".

She said Pennant would agree to live in Northcote with his mother, who was aged in her 80s and recovering from a hip replacement and with whom he was "extremely close".

She also said Pennant would agree not to contact any of the witnesses in the case, or to enter the Collingwood district, except when he was required to attend the Neighbourhood Justice Centre there.

Ms Fabian said her client had an 18-year history of alcohol abuse and had used amphetamines for seven years.

Snr Const McEvoy agreed the defendant had been "utterly co-operative" and that police had known to find Pennant at his local hotel.

"You left your calling card and he responded and came in voluntarily to the police station and was utterly co-operative with you," Ms Fabian put to Snr Const McEvoy.

"Yes," he replied.

Ms Fabian told Magistrate Jelena Popovic that Pennant had a job offer delivering lolly and chocolate vending machines to supermarkets.

He is set to appear for a committal mention in the same court on September 19.


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