Man who allegedly held gun to the head of a Shepparton accountant seeks bail

By Shepparton News

A man who allegedly held a gun to the head of a Shepparton accountant and demanded he pay back half a million dollars he owed someone, is yet to find out whether he will be released on bail.

Sam Ercan, 53, from Melbourne, 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.

The decision on whether Mr Ercan — who police allege has a long-standing involvement with the Hell's Angels motorcycle club — will be released from custody is expected to be handed down at a later date.

It comes after the accused’s lawyer Mark Gumbleton argued for him to be bailed during an application heard via video-link in Shepparton Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

During the application Mr Gumbleton argued that his client would be subject to significant delays in the legal system due to the current coronavirus situation and therefore compelling reasons were met as to why his continued detention was not justified.

“No-one would want to be in custody in this current climate because you cannot self-isolate,” he said.

“The delay we are talking about now is not the standard delay which was already lengthy ... extended delays, even ordinary delays, can often justify the granting of bail particularly where the term in custody would exceed the minimum term of imprisonment that would be imposed.”

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Caitlin McLeod said given the "incredibly serious nature" of the charges Mr Ercan faced, police were against him being granted bail.

She said Mr Ercan could face a "lengthy custodial sentence" which reduced his risk of spending more time in pre-sentence detention than he would be sentenced to if there was a delay in his matter.

Sen Const McLeod told the court the victim and his family were now "living in terror" and had "gone into hiding" following the violent incident last year.

“The offending appeared to be premeditated, targeted, unprovoked and occurred in the victim's place of work,” she said.

“The accused is heavily involved in the world of organised crime; he has access to significant resources — should he wish to carry out the threat, he has the means to do so.

“The victim has never been more at risk nor have his friends and family.”

Sen Const McLeod also told the court police had concerns with the accused having access to encrypted messaging apps via his mobile phone if he was released.

Mr Gumbleton argued however that conditions could be put in place to prevent him from having access to such applications.

“He can have a ‘dumb phone’ — a phone that can simply make and receive calls and send text messages, they don't have access to the internet and can't access applications such as those,” he said.

“If that is a risk it can be mitigated.”

The court heard Mr Ercan would reside at his family home in Melbourne if he was bailed, would be able to report daily to a nearby police station and could offer a surety of up to $400 000.

Mr Gumbleton said a curfew could be imposed which would allow the accused to continue working as a registered builder while also continuing to renovate a family property which he aimed to sell to provide income for his family.

Mr Gumbleton also argued against his client having links to any outlaw motorcycle gang.

“It is not illegal to associate with people involved with outlaw motorcycle gangs ... many members of the community who are law-abiding citizens associate with such members — that does not make them a criminal,” he said.

“All it becomes is suspicion and innuendo.”

The court was told Mr Ercan had a limited criminal history, with the accused currently serving his first time in prison following his arrest and remand on February 25 this year.

A decision is set to be handed down at a later date.