A Tatura farmer accused of murdering a man who ran over his dog says the gun accidentally went off after he tripped on an eggplant.
Angelo Russo, 55, is accused of fatally shooting David Calandro in 2017 during a dispute after Mr Calandro ran over Mr Russo’s dog at a Goulburn Valley farm.
Mr Russo was holding a shotgun and walking towards Mr Calandro’s ute when he tripped on an eggplant and the gun went off, defence barrister Patrick Tehan QC told a Victorian Supreme Court jury yesterday.
‘‘The shooting was an accident,’’ he said.
As he approached the driver’s side, he tripped and fell forward, the court was told.
‘‘It (the gun) then went off without the trigger having been pressed.’’
In his police interview, Mr Russo told investigators: ‘‘There was an eggplant on the ground there and my foot must have rolled on it.’’
But the prosecution alleges Mr Russo walked up to Mr Calandro on February 18 last year and deliberately shot him in the head because he was angry about his dog Harry being run over.
Mr Calandro had his two sons in the car at the time. The eldest boy, 13, was seated next to Mr Calandro when he was fatally shot.
‘‘It looked like he had splattered blood on his face,’’ Vince Vigliaturo told the court.
Mr Vigliaturo said he was friends with both Mr Russo and Mr Calandro at the time of the shooting.
He and Mr Calandro had arranged to go to Mr Russo’s farm in Tatura to pick up chillies.
As Mr Calandro was driving out of Mr Russo’s property, he swerved towards Mr Russo’s dog Harry, which was barking and running alongside his ute, to ‘‘spook him’’.
‘‘David sort of swerved, and swerved away from the dog quickly,’’ Mr Vigliaturo said.
‘‘And that’s when it was accidentally run over.’’
Mr Vigilaturo said Mr Calandro turned to him and said ‘‘oops’’.
‘‘He looked in the mirror and sort of shrugged it off,’’ Mr Vigliaturo said.
But Mr Vigliaturo could see the dog was injured after looking in the rearview mirror.
About 10 minutes later, Mr Russo rang Mr Vigliaturo, who was back at his farm.
‘‘He was very upset. He said ‘you f***ing c***, you ran over my dog and you didn’t even f****ng stop’.’’
Mr Vigliaturo said Mr Russo wanted to know where Mr Calandro was.
‘‘Tell him to come back and look at what he’s done to my f****ing dog.’’
The trial before Justice Michael Croucher continues.