David Sheard pictured leaving the Melbourne Magistrates Court this week. Photo: Jason South
A suburban spat over dirty nappies has triggered an eruption of violence, with a man assaulted and held around the neck while he was struck with a baseball bat and subjected to racial taunts.
The serious assault on Hussein Ibrahim followed ongoing "issues" between him and a woman after many complaints to a housing office over the use of rubbish bins.
A Melbourne court heard that on April 2 this year Ljubica Radovijec found "soiled nappies" dumped in the gutter next to her recycling bin in Frankford Court, Northcote.
Prosecutor Francesca Holmes said Ms Radovijec was upset and told her daughter Sonja Radovijec about what she had found.
Ms Holmes yesterday told Melbourne Magistrates Court Sonja Radovijec and her partner David Sheard left their home at about 2.15pm and began yelling racial insults and swearing at Mr Hussein, who yelled back.
Ms Holmes said Sheard punched Mr Hussein several times in the face and he began to back away to protect himself.
Radovijec then punched him to the back and chest in a "hammer-like" fashion while continually shouting racial abuse.
Ms Holmes said that as Mr Hussein tried to block the punches and fight back in retaliation, Ms Radovijec attempted to stop the fighting.
It was then that her daughter ran into her home and returned with a baseball bat to hit Mr Hussein in the face, ribs, back and legs while Sheard grabbed him around the neck so he could not move, she said.
The incident ended when a local housing officer intervened.
Mr Hussein sustained a crushed nasal bone, tenderness to the back of his neck, mild tenderness to his cheek bones and bruising to his left knee.
Radovijec, 40, and Sheard, 47, initially appeared in court to contest numerous charges at a committal hearing, but indicated a willingness to plead guilty to a charge of recklessly causing serious injury.
Lawyer Christopher Piesse, for Sheard, applied to magistrate Peter Reardon to have the charge heard summarily rather than before a judge.
Mr Piesse said his client had no relevant prior convictions and submitted the charge could be appropriately dealt with in a magistrates' court.
Brendan Hartwick, for Radovijec, argued there was no organisation involved in the offence, it was a "quite spontaneous" situation that got out of hand and that Mr Reardon's sentencing powers were adequate to deal with the offence.
Ms Holmes did not consent to or oppose the defence application, but described the circumstances as a "serious example of racial intolerance" that resulted in serious injuries that should not be "tolerated by the community".
She said "there is an argument these two accused should be made an example of" and be dealt with in a higher court, but reiterated her neutral position.
Mr Reardon noted that in considering such an application under the Criminal Procedure Act, a magistrate must take into account the seriousness of the offence that included the nature of it, the manner of its commission and the degree of organisation.
In granting the application, he described the case as serious but not particularly complicated and the prior criminal history of the defendants not extensive.
"It seems to me this court has the jurisdiction to deal with these matters," Mr Reardon said.
The couples' bail was extended for them to appear again in February.