When a silent alarm went off at a cannabis crop house he was guarding, Albert Biba went to investigate with a loaded firearm.
He was prepared to use the gun, and he did – deliberately and tragically – Supreme Court Justice Christopher Beale said on Friday in sentencing Biba for manslaughter.
His victim was Andrew Toumayan, who had gone to the Ringwood house with a friend in April 2018 to suss out what drugs they could steal from the growers.
The pair unknowingly triggered an alarm as they sneaked around the house and as Mr Toymayan started to walk through the front gate to head home, he was struck by a single shot fired by Biba.
Mr Toumayan let out a noise, according to his friend Francesco Vigneto, who was just metres behind.
He jumped a fence and ran onto the street to catch up with Mr Toumayan who, despite having been shot, was still fleeing the scene.
Mr Toumayan collapsed around the corner and was helped up by Mr Vigneto. He collapsed again in the driveway of a nearby home and with in his dying minutes asked his friend to “hold me”.
On the ground, Mr Vigneto brought Mr Toumayan to his chest.
“I could see my mate lying there on the ground, blood coming out of his mouth,” he told Victoria’s Supreme Court.
“I checked for a pulse. I found no pulse, tried to do mouth to mouth and pump his chest. It didn’t work.”
His mother said Biba had taken three lives that night – her son’s, her daughter’s and her own.
It was a shame she was still alive to suffer every day of her life, she said.
Justice Beale said while Biba had initially been charged with murder he had pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a crime which carries significantly shorter sentences.
“No doubt a sentence I give to you will add to her grief,” he said.
He ordered Biba serve at least seven years of a maximum 10-year sentence before he becomes eligible for parole.
Biba is on a bridging visa and will likely be deported to Albania after serving his sentence.
Justice Beale said Biba had glowing character references and appeared to be a model prisoner throughout his time in custody since August 2018.
He said he thinks it likely Biba was sorry for what he had done, but found his remorse was limited, and wasn’t satisfied that his guilty plea was motivated by remorse rather than self-interest.