$400K bail set for Melbourne man

Shepparton Court

A Melbourne man has been released on bail with strict conditions after he was arrested earlier this year for allegedly holding a gun to the head of a Shepparton accountant and demanding he pay back half a million dollars he allegedly owed someone.

Sam Ercan, 53, who appeared in Shepparton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday via video link, was granted bail by Magistrate Felicity Broughton, who imposed more than a dozen conditions.

These included a curfew, a surety of $400 000, and being prohibited from: visiting Greater Shepparton; contacting witnesses; associating with co-accused in the matter or any associates of outlaw motorcycle groups; possessing or using a smartphone or any other electronic internet-able device; and engaging with encrypted messaging applications.

‘‘This is very serious (offending) and the impact on the victim, his family and work colleagues has been extremely significant,’’ Ms Broughton said.

‘‘(However) taking into account the (bail) conditions advanced on behalf of the defence, in my view, will address those risks.’’

Mr Ercan — who police allege has a longstanding involvement with the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club — is facing charges of extortion with threats to kill, armed robbery, aggravated burglary with a firearm and unlawful assault following the alleged incident at a Shepparton accountancy firm on November 15 last year.

Police previously told the court the victim was scared for his life, with he and his wife packing up their belongings shortly after the incident and leaving their Shepparton home in fear for their safety and that of their two children.

Ms Broughton said the prosecution case against Mr Ercan was ‘‘strong’’; however, she acknowledged the issue of delay brought by the COVID-19 restrictions was a ‘‘very significant’’ problem.

‘‘The health crisis is one of the surrounding circumstances bail decisionmakers must take into account . . . the pandemic has already caused a significant backlog — trials in these proceedings may be listed in 2021 but are more likely to be in 2022,’’ she said.

‘‘I accept the time spent on remand could be a significant portion of the likely non-parole period imposed (if found guilty).’’

The prosecution argued against Mr Ercan being released on bail saying they were concerned he would use a form of electronic communication, potentially encrypted messaging software, to contact witnesses or associates of outlaw motorcycle groups when released.

The defence argued against this claim, while stating the delay caused by COVID-19, the accused’s positive personal circumstances and limited criminal history should be taken into account.

Mr Ercan is expected to face court again on July 14.

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Source: Shepparton News