Noa Ronnie Etheridge attempted to break into cars and units at this block of units on Lakes Creek Rd before heading up the driveway where he assaulted a 56-year-old with a hammer, hitting her twice in the head.
Noa Ronnie Etheridge attempted to break into cars and units at this block of units on Lakes Creek Rd before heading up the driveway where he assaulted a 56-year-old with a hammer, hitting her twice in the head. Jann Houley

Trial over Koongal assault using stolen hammer

A WOMAN, covered in about 500ml of her own blood, drove an ATV to her daughter's unit to get help after being hit in the temples with a hammer, twice.

Noa Ronnie Etheridge is on trial in the Supreme Court in Rockhampton after pleading not guilty to attempted murder and not guilty to assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm in relation to an assault on Koongal resident Kerry Gittins on January 9, 2018, in her home.

He pleaded guilty yesterday to unlawful act of grievous bodily harm, along with other charges of attempting to enter premises, stealing, enter dwelling with intent, wilful damage and unlawful use of a motor vehicle.

Defence barrister Andrew Hoare said his client, by way of his pleas of guilty to some of the charges, had accepted responsibility for the consequences of his actions, but that acceptance did not equate acceptance that he intended to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

He said Etheridge intent that morning was to gain property unlawfully.

The court heard during the agreed facts being read out that Etheridge had left muddy fingerprints and clothing throughout the block of units on the property, including muddy clothing left in the laundry.

Ms Gittins opened the door to Etheridge, who she did not know, sometime between 6.30am and 6.40am on January 9, 2018.

She was home alone as her husband was working in Townsville at the time.

Etheridge was wearing shorts and was covered in mud.

He told Ms Gittins he had been fishing and his son had been hurt and needed water.

Ms Gittins went to her kitchen, retrieved a 600ml bottle of water from the fridge to give to the man, and as she returned to the front door, she found he had moved and he hit her in the head with the hammer.

Etheridge had stolen the black handled silver claw hammer from a garage of nearby units where Ms Gittins' daughter, Lydia Withers, and her then partner Jeff Tomlinson resided.

"It was immense pain," Ms Gittins told the jury.

"I can't remember a lot. I remember it was my head ... I was paralysed. I couldn't run. I couldn't scream. I couldn't do anything."

The next memory she has is of being in an ambulance.

Her now son-in-law, Mr Tomlinson, was awake and getting ready for work, when he heard the ATV operating.

"It was travelling slower than what it normally does," he said.

"I heard it first. It parked on my lawn. I heard it idle.

"I found Kerry in a very bad state, covered in blood."

Mr Tomlinson said he returned to the flat to get Ms Withers to call an ambulance before returning to Ms Gittins.

"I woke up to Jeff screaming at me," Ms Withers told the court as she broke out crying.

"I called triple zero straight away, before I walked outside... walked downstairs.. to mum... covered in blood.

"The first thing I noticed was a large golf ball shape injury to her right temple... with a cut... gushing blood."

She said the operator told her to put a cloth to that injury and as she was doing this, she saw an injury to her mother's arm.

Ms Withers said Mr Tomlinson pointed out another head injury to the left temple which was about 20cm.

"You could see her skull," she said.

When the Queensland Ambulance Service arrived, the couple handed over the care of Ms Gittins to paramedic Emma-Jane Austen and her partner.

Ms Austen told the court they estimated Ms Gittins was covered in about 500ml of blood and she had multiple injuries to her head, face and arm.

She described the injury at the centre of Ms Gittins forehead as resembling a puncture wound.

Ms Austen said she felt a significant sized bruise at the back of her head (around the area of the occipital lobe) and Ms Gittins had two teeth missing.

Lakes Creek police station officer-in-charge Senior Constable Ryan Packenham told the court he arrived 30 seconds after QAS and that Ms Gittins appeared dazed and confused.

He said he saw two injuries to Ms Gittins temples.

"I've never seen anything like it," Snr Cons Packenham said.

The court heard after taking Ms Gittins' Nissan Navara which had been parked in the garage, and drove it through two steel gates used to lock the horses in the paddock.

Etheridge then drove around Gracemere, removed the number plates and drove along the Capricorn Highway.

He stopped at the Duaringa petrol station where he stole cigarettes, a lighter and an iced coffee.

The court heard a detective then saw the white Navara driving along the highway without numbers plates and intercepted it, finding a card wallet containing credit cards with Ms Gittins' name on them, along with three drops of blood in the back.

Etheridge was arrested.

Ms Gittins was flown to Brisbane after the incident for medical treatment.

The trial continues today.



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