Dad attacked with hammer at playground

A mentally ill Warilla man who threw a hammer at another man, piercing his buttock, mistakenly believed he had been called a paedophile, a court has heard.

The victim had been playing with his sons, aged six and four, at Jock Brown Oval, Barrack Heights, about 5.45pm on March 29 last year when he noticed Kenneth James Bellette watching the family from a nearby property.

About an hour later, Bellette entered the oval dressed in camouflage fatigues and walked to an area near the playground, where he set himself up with binoculars, a backpack and slide hammer.

The victim told police Bellette continued to watch his family, prompting him to go up to Bellette and ask him what he was doing.

Bellette told the man he was watching his house "because we're at war".

When asked why he was also watching the children, Bellette became aggressive and replied: "Are you saying I'm a rock spider?"

The victim, fearing for the safety of his two children, asked his mother - who was also at the playground - to take them to her car. Bellette then approached the victim near his own car and yelled abuse towards him, threatening to "kill your children, rape your mother, and burn your house down".

When the man turned to get into his car, Bellette threw the hammer towards him, hitting him in the left buttock, before then trying to grab hold of his throat.

The man eventually managed to get into his car and leave the scene, returning home to discover he had a deep gash in a buttock cheek.

He went to Shellharbour Hospital for treatment before reporting the incident to police later that evening.

Bellette, 45, was arrested the same night and charged with reckless wounding and intimidation.

He pleaded guilty to both charges in Wollongong Local Court yesterday.

His lawyer, John Gallagher, said Bellette had been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and was "psychotic" at the time of the offence.

The court heard he had spent two weeks in jail after being refused bail.

However, he had been released into a psychiatric facility in mid-April, where he had remained every since.

Mr Gallagher said Bellette's mental state had improved significantly since the attack.

Magistrate Geraldine Beattie acknowledged Bellette had served a "quasi-custodial sentence" while in the facility and noted his improved mental state.

She sentenced him to an overall two years' jail, setting a non-parole period of nine months and 19 days - the combined time he had spent in custody and the treatment facility. He was ordered to spend a further 14 months on strictly supervised parole, and placed on a supervised two-year good behaviour bond.

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