Killer says he solely meant to maim lawyer

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The man who carried out the brazen daylight execution of a Sydney solicitor says he had never fired a gun before and only meant to shoot him in the foot. “My finger just touched the trigger and the gun went off three times,” Arthur Keleklio testified in the NSW Supreme Court on Friday. He pleaded guilty in April to murdering Ho Ledinh who was shot as he sat outside with friends at the Happy Cup Cafe at Bankstown City Plaza on January 23, 2018. In June, a jury found Abraham Sinai guilty of the murder on the basis he was part of an arrangement for the 65-year-old lawyer to be killed, with his involvement including driving the gunman from the scene. Both men faced a sentence hearing before Justice Robert Alan Hulme on Friday, when Keleklio gave evidence via video link from jail. He told his barrister Paul Coady he accepted he caused Mr Ledinh’s death but said he had not intended to kill him. “On that day I was there to collect a debt,” he said. He had driven his own car to Bankstown and did not bring a gun nor any type of disguise. “Prior to this day had you ever fired a gun?” Mr Coady asked. “Never,” Keleklio replied. He had never heard of Mr Ledinh, was not owed money by him and was not involved in any dispute with him. In the weeks leading up to the shooting, he had communicated with his friend Sinai asking for work. The first time he heard about recovering a debt was the day before the shooting. “Who did you hear about the recovery of the debt from?” his barrister asked. “I would rather not say,” he replied. He understood “we were going to go to some guy’s office and collect a debt that was owed”. There was no discussion of a gun or the use of violence. But on the day, after he was driven around in a van after parking his car, the plan changed from collecting a debt to “shooting the guy in the leg”. He was provided with a gun and agreed to go along with the changed plan as he was scared. He thought he couldn’t opt out as he was too far in and was drug affected, having not slept for days and feeling paranoid. He was shown how to use the gun and intended to shoot the victim once in the foot. He moved his car as a lot of people were working on a construction site nearby and would have seen it before walking to a public toilet to put on gloves. He walked to the cafe and saw the seated victim from behind, when it would have been possible for him to shoot him in the head or back. “I walked to the front of the victim and I pointed the gun to his knee area.” He said his finger just touched the trigger and the gun went off before he ran away. After he was dropped off at his parents’ house, he heard on the radio that Mr Ledinh had died. “I felt really bad, I cried in the car.” Keleklio said he thought about the shooting every day and felt great shame and regret. “I am truly sorry for the hurt and despair I have caused to the Ledinh family.” Sinai’s barrister is expected to cross-examine Keleklio later on Friday. Australian Associated Press


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