Casterton's Murray Baker charged with weapon threat charges

A CASTERTON man who allegedly threatened drivers with a weapon has been remanded in custody until June 26.

Murray Baker, 55, of Glenelg Highway, unsuccessfully applied for bail in the Warranmbool Magistrates Court on Monday after being charged with 12 offences.

Magistrate Cynthia Toose said investigations were continuing and police were still in the process of obtaining statements from witnesses.

She said she was most concerned about Mr Baker's mental health issues.

Police opposed bail saying Mr Baker had been charged with making threats while armed with a weapon and that he was a danger to public safety.

Detective Sergeant Mark James told the magistrate between eight and 10 people contacted police on Tuesday last week claiming a man was brandishing a firearm and threatening drivers near the intersection of the Glenelg Highway and the Portland-Heywood Road.

Mr Baker lives near the intersection and a search of his home that morning located a speargun with a wooden stock which was seized by police.

​Mr Baker ​was allowed to go home while police continued to investigate allegations over the next few days.

​Detective Sergeant James ​said Mr Baker was understood to be very agitated about trucks using brakes in the town and had started a petition in protest.

He said that on Tuesday last week witnesses claimed he threatened drivers, in particular truck drivers, to slow down or he would shoot them.

One witness turned on a UHF radio and heard a man "ranting and raving" to a truck driver and recorded the conversation on his mobile phone.

That recording has been provided to police.

​​Detective Sergeant James ​said Mr Baker was the only person in Casterton who who could be on the recording and his voice had been recognised by three police officer who knew him.

The person in the recording admitted he had a .22 calibre rifle, he had threatened people, said it was interesting to see the reaction of people and that he was ready to kill.

"He said: 'I'm another Martin Bryant'," the police officer said in reference to the killer responsible for the Port Arthur massacre.

The police detective said Mr Baker has had several altercations with Casterton police and last Friday he became enraged and wanted to fight officers.

On the weekend, during the Casterton Kelpie Muster, Mr Baker approached a police officer and threatened he would get gangland figures to "get him".

At 2pm on Sunday Mr Baker is alleged to have barged into the Casterton police station before he was removed from the building.

Soon after he returned and abused police while parked in the middle of the road.

At 4.30pm on Sunday four police officers approached Mr Baker at his home, who was holding a wood splitter.

There was a struggle when he resisted arrested and Mr Baker hit his head on a fence causing an injury.

Mr Baker flatly denies he was involved in threatening drivers on Tuesday last week and claims he is being set up.

​​Detective Sergeant James ​said Mr Baker had underlying mental health issues, had been diagnosed with bipolar and takes medication daily.

He said police were in the process of applying for a search warrant for Mr Baker's home to look for the .22 rifle he claims to have in his possession.

Police have already obtained statements from six witnesses and expect another five or six people to formally talk to officers.

Mr Baker was involved in a similar offending in 2008 when he had a mental health episode.

He claimed in court police had no proof, he was being set up, he explained he had put his Casterton home on the market and he wanted to live with friends in Colac and go back to seeing his previous doctor in Colac.

He said he wanted to slow down trucks and it was only a matter of when, not if, there was a fatality in Casterton.