A martial arts coach has described feeling terrified for himself and his students when an aggrieved former client bombarded him with phone calls and threatened to "f---ing murder people".
The man detailed his fear in a victim impact statement read to the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday afternoon, when offender Anthony Bruce Sheppard was sentenced to four months in jail.
Court documents show the coach stopped training Sheppard at his Canberra gym around February 2018 because the 42-year-old Phillip resident had behaved inappropriately.
The man told police in the following weeks that Sheppard was threatening him, but he did not make a formal statement at that stage.
Nearly three years later, in November 2020, Sheppard called the man's mobile phone five times within 20 minutes.
When the coach did not answer, Sheppard left him a voicemail in which he called the man "a bully" and described how infamous American outlaw Billy the Kid had once shot such a person "in the belly".
"I'm buying a f---ing gun and I'm going to f---ing murder people," Sheppard said in "an agitated voice".
The victim felt "terrified" when he heard the message, and quickly briefed the people in his gym before calling police.
While waiting for officers to arrive, the man spotted Sheppard walking near the business and repeatedly gesturing towards it.
"To have a voicemail left, which indicated the intent to murder, and then see Anthony walk near my business, twice, wondering if I should evacuate everyone and cancel classes, was a terrifying moment," the coach wrote in his victim impact statement.
"This is not OK. This is not normal. It has caused me many days and nights of undue stress for my safety and wellbeing, and that of my business and clients."
The man said his willingness to take on new clients had been "diminished" by Sheppard's behaviour.
"My life is stressful enough without having the concerns caused by Anthony," he said.
Sheppard was initially charged with threatening to kill, but that charge was discontinued when he agreed to plead guilty to the lesser offence of using a carriage service to menace.
By the time the 42-year-old appeared in court to be sentenced on Monday, he had served 68 days in custody on remand.
His Legal Aid lawyer, Sam McLaughlin, conceded Sheppard's offending warranted a sentence of full-time imprisonment.
But he urged Special Magistrate Jane Campbell to suspend any further time behind bars, telling the court Sheppard was receiving treatment for mental health issues.
Mr McLaughlin also said Sheppard had endured a difficult stint in Canberra's jail, having suffered a fractured eye socket when he confronted people he claimed were stealing his things.
Prosecutor Juanita Zankin, who read the victim impact statement to the court, stressed how mentally shaken the martial arts coach had been by Sheppard's behaviour.
She said Sheppard's criminal record contained a history of violent offending, and protection of the community should be "a primary sentencing consideration".
Sheppard regularly interjected in court and complained that the people talking about him did not know him, with his offending only "one piece of the puzzle".
"In this last year, I've saved five lives," he told Ms Campbell.
He also spoke about what he intended to do upon his release from jail, saying: "I'm going to have my life story told and get my justice."
In sentencing, Ms Campbell said listening to Sheppard's voicemail had clearly been "a terrifying incident for ... the victim".
She said there was evidence before the court that the 42-year-old was hypersensitive to "perceived rejection", and that he sometimes became fixated on particular people and "vigilante themes".
But Ms Campbell found it appropriate to free Sheppard, imposing a backdated four-month jail term and ordering the remainder of it be suspended immediately.
She put in place a recognisance release order requiring Sheppard to abide by a number of terms, including being of good behaviour for 18 months.
As Ms Campbell detailed the conditions, Sheppard asked: "Can I save more lives?"
The magistrate replied: "Of course."