Five-year jail term

By Cobram Courier

‘‘I hope they use a nice photo at my funeral,’’ were the thoughts running through a 15-year-old schoolgirl’s mind while she was being kidnapped at Cobram Showgrounds last year.

Barooga’s Scott Kelberg, 32, was sentenced at the County Court in Shepparton last week to five years in prison for the girl’s kidnapping.

The court heard how the young victim was walking home from school at 4pm on April 20, 2017 when the accused stopped to ask her for directions.

Crown prosecutor David Cordy told the court the accused got out of his car and grabbed her by her waist.

‘‘She started kicking and screaming, so he put his hand over her mouth,’’ he said.

Mr Cordy said when Kelberg eventually got her into the car, he put a towel over the victim’s face before two passing witnesses intervened.

‘‘Two males happened to walk past as the attack was happening,’’ he said.

‘‘She heard the car starting and managed to jump out of the car.’’

The court heard how the accused later text messaged his de-facto partner, telling her ‘‘I done that thing today, the cops are looking for me’’.

Later that night police attended the accused’s address and found the clothing he wore that day had been washed.

Mr Cordy submitted that the court must make an order for imprisonment because substantial and compelling circumstance otherwise could not be found.

‘‘Here you’ve got an unknown complainant, minding her own business and she’s literally grabbed off the street,’’ he said.

‘‘It really strikes fear into any parents or right-minded citizen. She would’ve thought she was going to be raped and/or worse ... they’re the thoughts he created in her mind.’’

Defence lawyer Tom Lynch argued the accused was entitled to a reduced sentence for pleading guilty.

‘‘This man was not himself, the separation from his partner (contributed to his frame of mind),’’ he said.

‘‘He has limited education up until the end of Year 9, there appears to be no father figure ... my primary submission is that time served (377 days) is enough.’’

Judge Gerard Mullaly took his time to reach a verdict, specifically referencing the witness impact statements presented by the victim’s parents.

‘‘Her mum said ‘our family life as we knew it was altered forever’,’’ he said.

‘‘The violent snatching of a vulnerable young woman creates corrosive fear in our community. The fear you caused was considerable and unforgivable.’’

Kelberg was sentenced to five years in prison with a non-parole period of three years and three months.