By Brendan Rees
Two thugs who posed as police officers – with one stomping a woman’s head – during a Berwick home invasion was an act of “veracious violence,” a court has been told.
Carl Bowler, 31, and his accomplice Benjamin Tarasinkski, 35, were sentenced in the County Court in Melbourne on 29 November to lengthy jail terms.
They had pleaded not guilty to charges of home invasion, armed robbery, recklessly causing injury and assault.
The court was told the bandits broke into a Glendale Crescent home on 5 March, 2017, where a male occupant was awoken by the sound of crashing glass at 9am.
They attacked the man after bashing down his bedroom door. The victim tried to ward off the thugs but was struck with what he says was a knife and hammer and hit from behind.
Tarasinkski then stormed another bedroom and confronted a woman – who had heard voices yelling “police”.
“Give me the s**t, give me the s**t,” he yelled at her, the court heard.
The woman picked up a tub with about nine kilograms of cannabis in an attempt to push Tarasinksi against a wall but the container was snatched from her, the court heard.
Another woman described opening her bedroom door and being “grabbed by the throat” by Tarasinksi who was armed with a mallet.
During a struggle, the woman fell backwards with Tarasinksi falling on top of her. As he stood up he “stomped” on her face, the court was told.
The pair fled the house but were arrested by police nearby shortly after.
They lied to police and later to the jury to avoid getting into trouble, Judge O’Connell said.
He said their crimes had left one of the women, aged 53, “stunned, terrified and helpless”.
She developed a “debilitating anxiety whereby her sleep, her appetite her confidence and sense of security in your own home have been severely disturbed,”
The other female victim, 47, thought she “was going to die” and has since left a job she loved due to anxiety.
The male occupant, who had suffered a close head injury including lacerations, experienced a “frightening ordeal which will stay with him for a very long time to come,” Judge O’Connell said.
In sentencing, Judge O’Connell said: “The striking feature of the conduct you engaged in on this morning was the explosive violence you used in smashing your way into the house with weapons to assault weapons and instil terror in order to order to get drugs.
“This was a home invasion in very sense of the word.”
Judge O’Connell added: “This offending is simply too serious to be dealt with in any other way other than imprisonment.”
The court heard Bowler’s life changed “very much for the worst” after his mother died when he was aged 12. He became disruptive at school and was expelled after allegedly caught using drugs.
However, he started a successful courier business with his father-in-law but later begun using methamphetamine after breaking up with his partner.
Tarasinksi, who has an “extensive” criminal history, has had a major depressive disorder since adolescence.
He was born to hard working parents of Polish origin who ran a fish and chip in East Gippsland. His older brother also worked as police officer in WA.
But Tarasinksi had behavioural problems the court was told and was twice expelled from schools. He left home and lived with an uncle where he smoked cannabis over the next four years, Judge O’Connell said.
Tarasinksi was sentenced to six years and nine months in jail while Bowler was sentenced to five years and nine months in jail.