'Crack him harder': Elderly man tells court of pain from assault with wooden plank in Wodonga home

CRIME SCENE: Police investigated the William Street property the day after the assault, where the victim of an assault said he had been left "stunned".
CRIME SCENE: Police investigated the William Street property the day after the assault, where the victim of an assault said he had been left "stunned".

Leo Duncan was left “dazed and confused” when he was suddenly struck in the back of the head while watching footy with a friend at his Wodonga home.

The 75-year-old pensioner stood up in Wodonga Magistrates Court on Monday to face the man and woman accused of attacking him in his William Street home, then stealing $140 from him, on the afternoon of April 15.

Police allege Paul Branson, 46, and Lousie Bryson, 39, planned the assault, saying Bryson struck the victim with a wooden plank multiple times while the victim was in his home with Branson, who then stole money from his wallet.

The pair pleaded not guilty to the charges including armed robbery and were committed to stand trial in the County Court.

Mr Duncan said he did not see the weapon used in the attack before he was knocked unconscious for a short time.

“I was told by the doctors and nurses I would have been hit four or five times just from the marks,” he said.

“I knew it was Louise because as I fell, I got a look at her.”

Branson helped Mr Duncan to his chair after he regained consciousness and the elderly man pressed the panic alarm around his neck to alert emergency services.

He was taken to hospital and released then next day, when he discovered his wallet was missing cash.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard

Under cross-examination from Branson’s barrister Jacob Kantor, Mr Duncan admitted he and Bryson did not like each other.

The elderly man had served time in jail after being found guilty of two charges of indecent assault in 2011 for historical offences more than 40 years old.

He said Bryson had written the word “paedophile” on his car and set a running hose against the open screen door of his home.

Friend James Jacobs gave evidence that Branson made a confession as they walked to the Elgins bottle shop after the assault, saying “Louise hit him (Mr Duncan)”, but he told her “crack him harder” then took the man’s wallet from his pocket.

Acting Sergeant Andrew Leonard said Branson was not a suspect until police found he had cash in his wallet, despite witnesses saying he had been asking them for a loan earlier in the day.

Police had to ask him to leave when talking to Mr Duncan.

“I have no doubt Mr Branson had been drinking … He was very argumentative and bordering on volitile,” Acting Sergeant Leonard said. 

“(Mr Duncan) was in pain, in tears – he was certainly distraught.”

The case was adjourned for a directions hearing in the County Court next week.