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Farmer Accused Of Shooting Murder Blames Gunfire On Eggplant

A Victorian farmer accused of murdering a man who ran over his dog has claimed his shotgun went off accidentally when 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 today.

“The shooting was an accident,” he said.

“As he approached the driver’s side, he tripped and fell forward.

“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 the 55-year-old walked up to Mr Calandro on February 18, 2017 and deliberately shot him in the head because Mr Russo 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.

Mutual friend Vince Vigliaturo told the court it “looked like (Mr Calandro) had splattered blood on his face.”

Mr Vigliaturo 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 his accused killer’s property, he swerved towards 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 rear-view 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–t, you rang over my dog and you didn’t even f—ing stop’.”

Mr Vigliaturo said 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.

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