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A great grandfather who shot a rogue tradie after he dumped rubbish on his property has avoided a jail sentence with a simple fine.
Paolo Mannici, now 90, shot Melton tradie Raymond Pasco, 61, seconds after he dumped a truck load of filthy soil on his Ravenswood industrial lot, west of Melbourne.
Mannici was on Thursday convicted and fined $20,000 over the December 2020 attack.
Paolo Mannici locks and loads his grandfather’s Beretta before firing two shots at Raymond Pasco
Raymond Pasco holds his arm after Paolo Mannici shot him in December 2020
In sentencing Mannici on Thursday, County Court of Victoria Judge Damian Murphy declined to even impose a community corrections order against the elderly offender.
While Judge Murphy condemned Mannici for shooting his victim, he accepted Pasco had behaved poorly leading up to the incident.
‘I am prepared to accept that you were sorely provoked by Mr Pasco and his conduct,’ he said.
‘Given your prior good character … Mr Pasco’s assertive demands for the outstanding payment, including your statement that he visited your home on two occasions, and his conduct in dumping loads of rubbish on your site and threatening to continue to do so on that day, provides an explanation for your out-of-character actions.’
Judge Murphy further accepted Mannici’s age, early plea, previous good character and genuine remorse.
‘Given your age, frailty, use of a walking stick and the provocative conduct by Mr Pasco, you were substantially provoked by his conduct,’ he said.
Security cameras captured the moment Mannici, who was aided by a walking stick, calmly cocked his .22 calibre Beretta handgun before opening fire on Pasco.
Daily Mail Australia revealed on Wednesday, Mannici’s victim was in fact a convicted criminal, who had prior convictions for dishonesty, drug dealing and making threats to kill.
Just weeks before the shooting, Pasco allegedly threatened to shoot Mannici if he didn’t pay him for clean-up works on the lot the elderly grandfather maintained hadn’t been performed.
‘If you do not pay me I will put a bullet in your head,’ Pasco allegedly told him on November 23 that year.
Mannici’s barrister, Dr Theo Alexander, claimed Pasco then pushed his frail client so hard in the chest that he started to bleed.
So worried about the incident, Mannici and a colleague took photos of his injuries and reported the alleged assault to Sunshine Police.
Despite both men making sworn statements and providing the images to detectives, no action was taken, Dr Alexander told the court.
Mannici had contracted Pasco to clear the lot on July 31, with an agreement that the job would be done in four weeks at a cost of $25,000.
By August 20, none of the site had been cleared of building waste and rubbish, but Mannici complied with Pasco’s demands for a $5000 payment, the court heard.
On September 17, Mannici paid Pasco another $5000 despite the job being three weeks late.
Adding insult to injury, Mannici claimed Pasco had begun dumping his own concrete and steel from other building sites upon his property, Dr Alexander stated.
Seconds before disaster: Raymond Pasco makes his last dump of rubbish on Paolo Mannici’s property
WHO IS PAOLO MANNICI?
Born in a small village called Carrafa in Calabria, Italy on August 5, 1931.
He has been married for 63 years and has three children, who all live in Melbourne.
He had four siblings: three sisters and one brother. They have all since died.
He has six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Mannici maintains a close relationship with all of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
No one in his family has ever been in trouble with the law.
He lived through the Second World War in Italy.
His parents cared for him and instilled in him a strong work ethic that he has maintained to today.
After migrating to Australia in 1951, aged 20, he moved to Sydney and worked in a steel factory.
Over the years he has worked on cane fields, in factories, as a bus driver before becoming a property developer.
Mannici has no prior criminal history in Italy or Australia
Just five days later Pasco demanded yet another $5000 payment, which Mannici paid despite claims only 20 percent of the work had been completed.
Dr Alexander said Pasco continued to demand more money on October 20 despite carrying out no further clearing works at Mannici’s site.
‘When the accused refused to pay any more, the victim commenced sending threatening emails and text messages to the accused’s grandson,’ he stated.
‘(Pasco) ceased any site clearing, but left his machines parked on the site. The accused tried to communicate with (him) to establish if and when the work would be completed. (Pasco) simply kept demanding more money.’
Fed up, Mannici employed a new contactor on November 12, with work commencing immediately.
A week later, Pasco began making threats to the new contractor, Dr Alexander stated.
Pasco had claimed he had stopped work after allegedly finding contaminated soil on the site from tyres previously burnt and buried there.
‘That assertion is a lie and was designed to cover his misconduct,’ Dr Alexander told the court.
‘Indeed, the victim also used this false assertion as a basis to make further threats to the accused – the victim threatened to report this fabricated “issue” to the EPA if the accused did not pay more money.’
The court heard the environment watchdog did indeed investigate Mannici’s lot, but found no evidence of soil contamination.
Just days before the shooting, Mannici told Pasco to move his machines out of the lot and asked him to stop dumping rubbish there.
Italian immigrant Paolo Mannici (pictured) had spent 70 years in Australia without a single brush with the law before taking it into his own hands.
Paolo Mannici had been gifted the Beretta from his grandfather
Paolo Mannici’s victim had just dumped this pile of rubbish on his industrial lot when he took matters into his own hands
‘(Pasco) had intimidated and threatened the accused each time he attended the land to dump more rubbish,’ Dr Alexander said.
Worried about Victoria Police’s inaction to his complaint, Mannici began taking his grandfather’s 40-year old handgun to the lot.
‘The accused felt intimidated, vulnerable and powerless. He was frustrated and despite his advanced age, had never been treated with such contempt,’ Dr Alexander told the court.
‘He brought the handgun for the sole purpose of frightening (Pasco), by firing shots in the air if necessary, intending that the victim would thereafter cease attending the property.’
On the day of the shooting, CCTV cameras set-up by Pasco himself to capture illegal dumping on the site, caught Pasco dumping another load of rubbish-filled soil on Manicci’s property.
Footage showed Mannici standing helplessly by as Pasco dumped the load in his yard.
Armed with the handgun, Mannici is seen walking towards Pasco before two shots ring out.
The court heard Mannici had not intended to actually shoot his victim.
‘I just wanted to scare him with the gun to stop him dumping rubbish, not hurt him,’ Mannici told a forensic psychiatrist.
‘I went over to him and he grabbed me and the gun went off. I didn’t want to hurt him, but I know I was wrong. I did the wrong thing.’
Clint Eastwood played a grumpy old man who liked to pack heat in a 2008 film titled Gran Torino
Mannici was seen wearing a black apron as he walked out the front to collect fruit from a tree
Victorian Police officers are seen at a crime scene on a work site in Ravenhall where Mannici shot a man
One bullet tore through Pasco’s arm before he was able to take the elderly shooter down.
Even after being shot, Pasco was seen standing over the elderly man and demanding his money.
‘If you had of paid, none of this would have f**king happened … What’s the matter with you?’ he shouted.
‘You f**king owe me money. What do you think you’re f**king gonna do. ‘
The exchange was only stopped when a large man of Islander appearance stepped in, which almost started another fracas.
Another man, believed to be a colleague of Pasco, was also heard shouting threats at Mannici.
‘You’re lucky it was him and not me. I would have shot you. You’re f**king lucky I was on the other side of the yard. You understand, you have no f**king idea who I am,’ the man told Mannici.
The court heard Pasco had a lengthy criminal history, including convictions for theft, obtaining property by deception, breaching a suspended sentence, breaching an intervention order, making threats to kill and drug trafficking.
‘(He) has a history of dishonesty … in my submission, one should be circumspect before accepting what (the victim) says,’ Dr Alexander said.
Paolo Mannici (pictured) is seen at his home after being granted bail for a shooting at a work site in Melbourne
One of the .22 calibre bullets Paolo Mannici did not fire at Pasco
A disabled tag can be seen hanging from the rear view mirror of Paolo Mannici’s van
In a victim impact statement read to the court, Pasco, who is likely entitled to claim up to $60,000 in victims of crime compensation, claimed Mannici had ruined his life and left him impotent.
‘I don’t go a single day without thinking of the gun and the man behind the trigger,’ he said.
‘There is no escape for me, not a moment of peace or relief. I don’t feel safe anymore and the comfort I used to find in the presence of others is gone.’
The court heard Pasco endured an eight-hour operation on the day he was shot and continues to suffer a range of mental and physical injuries.
‘When I close my eyes all I can see is the barrel of a gun staring right back at me. All I can hear is the echoing of gun shots in my ears and I am stuck remembering the immense fear I felt and still do,’ Pasco wrote.
The injured tradie stated he could no longer sleep due to the fear of seeing Mannici in his dreams.
‘I am not proud of it, but I struggle with thoughts of suicide and ending it all. I just want to escape the never-ending pain,’ he stated.
Pasco said the injury had left his arm with nerve damage, which made ordinary tasks difficult to perform.
‘Due to medications, I am now impotent. This places a huge impact on my manhood and the way I feel about myself. I feel as though I am not a man,’ he told the court.
When Mannici’s actions were described as borderline vigilante, Dr Alexander agreed.
‘To the extent that this man felt frustrated, unassisted by authorities, unable to do anything to stop this person from continuing their contemptuous treatment – then yes, it would be described as vigilantism,’ Dr Alexander said.