Russo sent to jail

By Country News

A Victorian farmer, who says he tripped on an eggplant when he fatally shot a man in the head, has been sentenced to five years’ jail.

Angelo Russo, 55, pleaded guilty to manslaughter over the February 2017 death of David Calandro, 43, who was shot in front of his two young sons while sitting in his ute.

The shooting happened shortly after Mr Calandro’s vehicle had hit and badly injured Russo’s dog Harry at the latter’s Tatura farm.

Both men knew each other and Mr Calandro had been at Russo’s farm with his sons to pick some vegetables.

Russo had just put Harry out of his misery using a shotgun and was holding the firearm as he approached Mr Calandro’s vehicle.

But he stumbled and hit the barrel of the gun on the driver’s window.

The gun was faulty and, unknown to Russo, it could fire when bumped, which it did that day, fatally shooting Mr Calandro in the head.

Russo pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced in the Supreme Court on Friday to five years’ jail with a minimum term of two-and-a-half years.

Originally Mr Calandro had driven off without stopping when he hit the dog, which had been chasing the ute in the driveway.

But he soon returned to ‘‘confess to the error of his ways’’ shortly after Russo had shot the injured pooch.

Justice Michael Croucher said Russo had ‘‘anger in his heart but no violence in mind’’ when he approached Mr Calandro’s ute.

‘‘Before either man could say anything, Mr Russo stumbled, possibly on an eggplant, causing the barrel of the gun to strike the driver’s side window.’’