House fire and neighbourhood dispute at McInnes Street, Loowood. Photo: Contributed
House fire and neighbourhood dispute at McInnes Street, Loowood. Photo: Contributed Contributed

Man who allegedly used car as weapon kept behind bars

A MAGISTRATE has kept a Lowood man behind bars after he allegedly used his vehicle as a weapon in a revenge attack.

The 36-year-old man, Mario Giovinni Merlo, had his house destroyed after it was set ablaze in the early hours of Sunday morning.

While firefighters battled the flames, Merlo and his male housemate allegedly confronted residents at a house down the road about the fire.

After a heated dispute, Merlo apparently got in his car and steered his vehicle into the front yard of the second address.

It is alleged Merlo intentionally drove the car at the house, its occupants and vehicles parked at the address.

At Ipswich Magistrates Court yesterday, he appeared in the dock with his face swollen from a suspected broken jaw, which he apparently sustained during the altercation.

In relation to the incident, Merlo was charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle, acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm and two counts of wilful damage.

He was also charged with assault occasioning bodily harm, robbery and deprivation of liberty for a series of offences on April 18.

The matters were adjourned to May 27.

In applying for bail, defence lawyer Justin Thomas said Merlo intended to dispute the charges and added there was "more to the story than what was contained in the material".

Mr Thomas told the court his client had strong ties to the community and worked in the construction industry as a pipe layer.

He said although Merlo had a criminal history, his risk of reoffending could be adequately managed under strict bail conditions.

Magistrate Virginia Sturgess said even with the conditions Merlo still posed and "unacceptable risk" of reoffending.

"Even if I accept there is more to the story for both groups of offences, there are still two separate incidents alleged to have occurred," Ms Sturgess said.

It is alleged a housemate of Merlo stabbed an occupant of the second address with a screwdriver but has yet to be charged.


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