Jail assured for terror ride

AN Albury man who took his former partner on a terrifying car ride during which he stabbed her with a knife faces several years behind bars.

Prosecutors are seeking a maximum term of five to seven years’ jail for Benjamin Art.

Judge Michael Bourke was critical of Art’s actions and said he certainly faced more time in jail.

“These events were quite extraordinary in their seriousness and level of violence and threats,” he told the County Court at Mildura yesterday.

Judge Bourke said he wanted time to consider his notes before sentencing Art in Melbourne later this month.

The case was adjourned to Mildura from a plea hearing held in Wodonga on September 12 last year.

The victim, a Wodonga woman, then 20, was tied-up, stabbed and bashed during her 12-hour ordeal.

She answered a knock at the front door of her Lawrence Street home at 1.30am on Saturday, December 22, 2012.

Art, then 31, forced his way into the house, assaulted her, bound her hands and feet with wire and dragged her to his car.

The woman was bashed several times over the next 11½ hours, and was stabbed five times in her legs with a 20-centimetre kitchen knife as they drove along the Murray Valley Highway towards Tallangatta.

Art, who was high on the drug ice and the prescription drug Xanax, lost control of the car on a bend and the vehicle rolled down a 30-metre embankment near a stream.

Art dragged the unconscious woman — who fractured her neck — out of the car and left her on a sand bar, where she regained consciousness at 2.30pm.

She walked to the Koetong Hotel, where she asked to use a phone to call for help.

Defence barrister Jason Gullaci said Art “doesn’t have a great recall of the events”.

“He indicated he had taken a number of substances,” he said.

Mr Gullaci said when told about the nature of the offences, Art had expressed his disgust in himself and regretted what happened to his victim.

Art has pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, intentionally cause injury, making threats to kill and dangerous driving causing injury.

Up until yesterday, he had spent 446 days in custody awaiting the finalisation of his case.

The matter was adjourned to Mildura yesterday — and relayed to Wodonga via an audio-visual link — to allow for the preparation of a neuro-psychological report.

That was in response to a psychological report put to the September plea hearing that suggested Art might have suffered from an acquired brain injury, possibly caused by his drug use.

Judge Bourke said this second report did not contain a conclusion that could allow him to consider whether there was evidence that Art had such an injury.

Mr Gullaci said it did seem clear Art was “someone at the lower end of the intelligence scale”.

Judge Bourke further remanded Art in custody, with the matter adjourned to the sittings of the County Court in Melbourne, starting on March 24.

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