Farmer admits unleashing rifle on thief

A 71-year-old Victorian hobby farmer has admitted twice shooting a would-be thief.
A 71-year-old Victorian hobby farmer has admitted twice shooting a would-be thief.

When Abdul Elraoui heard a stranger rummaging around his Victorian hobby farm he immediately grabbed his unregistered semi-automatic rifle.

The 71-year-old man had been robbed several times before at his Mincha property, about three hours' northwest of Melbourne.

And rather than calling police and locking his doors, he decided to take the matter into his own hands.

Aiming for the beaming light of an iPhone, Elraoui, fired two shots at Hannah Meharry, who had broken into his property with two friends about 3am in June 2019.

Elraoui first shot Ms Meharry, then 21, in the arm from about five metres away.

He shot her again in the back after she screamed in pain and ran off.

Elraoui on Wednesday faced the Victorian County Court, where he pleaded guilty to intentionally causing serious injury as well as reckless conduct endangering life.

The court heard that the then 69-year-old man followed Ms Meharry as she ran off and jumped into a getaway car.

Elraoui fired at least two more shots at the fleeing vehicle.

The trio of would-be thieves, who had used bolt-cutters to enter Elraoui's property, then crashed at high speed after trying to escape him.

They knocked on a neighbour's home and Ms Meharry collapsed on the floor after calling triple zero.

The 21-year-old remained in hospital for three days and needed surgery to have shrapnel removed from her body.

She had a 2cm deep gunshot wound to her left arm, and three wounds, each the size of a 20-cent coin, on her back.

Elraoui's barrister Cameron Marshall said his client had found life difficult in Australia after leaving Lebanon during the civil war.

The 71-year-old had become "estranged" from society following a divorce and had also developed anxiety problems after he was robbed several times.

"He is a deeply apprehensive and fearful man - it manifests with significant anxiety and agitation," Mr Marshall said.

The defence barrister said Elraoui, who lived alone, bought his gun at a deceased estate auction about 10 years earlier for farming purposes and that his behaviour could not be compared to the recklessness of "gangster-like behaviour".

Prosecutor Phillip Raimondo said the shooting was a serious offence given the three thieves, all in their early 20s, never physically threatened Elraoui.

"He should not have done what he did - clearly," Judge Gerard Mullaly said.

"With his impaired mental functioning, he doesn't make decisions that should be made."

Elraoui is expected to face a sentence hearing on November 10.

Australian Associated Press