Stab victim doused wife, baby with petrol

A CASTERTON man wounded in a double fatal stabbing who threw petrol over his wife and three-week-old son and threatened to set them on fire will have his mental health assessed.

Stephen William Mark, 30, of Addison Street, pleaded not guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court yesterday to making a threat to inflict serious injury, but guilty to causing criminal damage, breaching an intervention order, using cannabis and threatening to damage property. 

Magistrate John Lesser found the contested charge proven, saying he believed the victim had provided a truthful account, whereas Mark’s explanation was implausible and inconsistent.

He deferred sentencing until July 9, saying a mental health report could determine how he dealt with the matters.

Mr Lesser urged Mark to engage with the assessors, not only in relation to alcohol and drug issues but also post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from his stabbing.

Mark was stabbed in a knife attack in Casterton during October 2011 in which two men died, for which Aaron Ball was jailed for 20 years on Wednesday in the Warrnambool Supreme Court.

Mark had been married to his wife Amy for 13 months and they had two children, Archie, 3, and Kyle, aged three weeks, when an incident happened about 8am on September 23 last year.

Amy Mark said she woke up to find messages on a mobile telephone and decided to pack up and leave. 

She said she tried to ask what the messages were about and her husband got “real angry”.

“There was a whole heap of yelling,” Mrs Mark said.

“He went outside to the shed. I went outside to the car to get a nappy bag. 

“He came out of the shed with a jerry can. He swung it around and all the petrol came out. I was covered in it.”

Mrs Mark said she was carrying her baby son at the time and petrol splashed on him despite her attempting to shield him with her body.

“He (Mark) said he was going to light me on fire and light the house with Archie in it. 

“I was pretty scared. I thought he was going to light me on fire,” she said.

Mrs Mark said her husband then threw petrol on her clothes inside the house and put some of the clothes in an indoor wood fire.

She took her children to a neighbour’s house, then returned to pack before telephoning a friend who came and collected her and her children.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Rob Thyssen, Mrs Mark denied trying to grab the jerry can before she was soaked with petrol.

“I was hysterical. The person who was meant to love me was going to set me on fire,” she said.

Friend Cheryl Humphries said she went to pick up Mrs Mark and her children.

She said she smelt petrol in Mrs Mark’s house and on both her friend’s and the baby’s clothes.

Mr Thyssen told the court that in a statement to police Mark said his wife had tried to snatch a jerry can from him, causing petrol to splash on them both.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Kevin Mullins said the offending had to be considered at the higher end of the scale for such a charge.

He said Mark, who has significant prior convictions, also had criminal damage charges due to be heard in the Hamilton court next week.

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