A former Australian soldier allegedly stormed an animal shelter in full tactical gear and pointed an assault rifle at an animal ranger because he was looking for his lost cat, a Melbourne court has heard.
- Police said the alleged victim and her colleagues were traumatised by the incident
- Tony Wittman’s lawyer said he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder
- The father of three was denied bail and will reappear in court in April
Tony Wittmann, 44, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today accused of tying up a young woman at the Lost Dogs’ Home in Cranbourne West, in Melbourne’s outer south-eastern suburbs, on Monday night.
He is facing multiple charges including kidnapping, false imprisonment and armed robbery.
Mr Wittmann applied for bail but it was denied by Magistrate Greg McNamara.
“The community would be at risk personally of him committing further offences if granted bail,” Magistrate McNamara said.
“The strength of the prosecution case is a very strong one. Firearms were involved, loaded firearms.
The court heard that on Monday night Mr Wittmann allegedly went to the Lost Dogs’ Home where his cat was being held, after being told he could pick it up the following day.
Detective Senior Constable Jo MacDonald told the magistrate Mr Wittmann, who served in the Australian Army before being discharged for failing to render efficient service, was dressed in military-style clothing and was armed with an assault rifle.
“On this occasion, he’s acted to get back possession of a cat, which he was only going to be without for possibly 10 hours,” she told the court.
The father of three is accused of pointing the rifle at a young ranger in the shelter’s car park, who later described the gun as “something a SWAT team in the movies would use”.
Mr Wittman allegedly said: “Do as I say and listen to me, I won’t shoot you.”
The court heard the woman pleaded with Mr Wittmann not to harm her, telling him she was the mother of a young child, to which he allegedly responded with: “Don’t try anything or I’ll shoot you.”
Police say they then walked into the Lost Dogs’ Home where Mr Wittmann is accused of interrogating the woman about “where all the cats were”.
“The accused continued to question [the victim] about the cat [and] during this conversation the accused continued to point the gun towards [the victim] with his finger on the trigger,” the detective said.
Mr Wittman then allegedly told the woman to get on her knees and put her hands behind her back, before tying her up.
“The accused said, ‘I’m going to close this door. If I see you, I’ll shoot you,'” the detective said.
The court heard that after Mr Wittmann left the woman, she called her boss who alerted the authorities.
Senior Constable MacDonald told the court that after the incident, Mr Wittmann allegedly dumped a military-style vest, balaclava and a tactical helmet into the bush.
Police say he later made full admissions during an interview.
Today police opposed bail, telling the magistrate the alleged offending was serious.
“The victim and her work colleagues are absolutely traumatised by what’s happened,” the detective said.
“He’s aware of their workplace. He lives close by. He has shown a complete disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the general public.
“He has collected a series of weapons. I’ve looked through his mobile telephone which highlights he’s purchased further weapons which are due to be delivered to his home address.”
Earlier, Mr Wittman’s lawyer, Crystle Gomez Vazquez, said it was her client’s first time in custody.
She told the court he had multiple physical injuries and was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The court also heard that as detectives scoured the scene for clues on the morning after the incident, Mr Wittmann allegedly returned to the Lost Dogs’ Home to claim his cat.
He will return to court in April.