An 11-year-old girl who was shot in the face would have died without the surgery she received in Melbourne, a jury was told.
Royal Children’s Hospital director of neurosurgery Dr Wirginia Maxiner operated on Phoenix Newitt after she was shot in the right temple at Deloraine in August 2017.
Dr Maxiner appeared via telephone in the Launceston Supreme Court to tell the jury about Phoenix’s injuries.
Bullet fragments penetrated the girl’s brain, causing significant swelling and bleeding outside the brain, Dr Maxiner said.
Her life was “absolutely” in danger and she “would have died as a result of the pressure on the brain stem” if she did not have surgery.
Phoenix spent about seven weeks in the Victorian hospital, with 11 of those days spent in acute care.
Nathan Richard Campbell has pleaded not guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to the 11 year old.
When the 26-year-old took the stand on the third day of the trial he said he did not know Phoenix had been injured until police told him.
“I didn’t believe it to start with. I just shut down,” he said.
The accused wept while being questioned by Crown Prosecutor John Ransom about what his intentions were when he shot at a car which Sarah Newitt, her brother Zachery, his son and Phoenix were in.
“I wasn’t intending to hurt anybody,” he said.
“I just wanted to shoot a warning shot off to protect my family.”
Prior to the shooting, a fist fight had broken out between the accused’s girlfriend Brearna Mansell and Phoenix’s mother at Deloraine Woolworths.
Ms Mansell returned to her home in Stagg Court with “blood and cuts on her face and was hysterical”, Mr Campbell said.
It was alleged the Newitts threatened to have Mr Campbell’s three-year-old daughter raped just before the accused shot a .22 calibre rifle at Mr Newitt’s car.
“I heard Zach Newitt say he was going to come in and rape my daughter and make me watch,” Mr Campbell said.
The threat made Mr Campbell “see red”, so he went into his house and retrieved the rifle.
He cocked the gun, walked to the tree in his front yard, took the safety off, aimed at the front wheel and fired.
The court heard evidence about the rifle’s accuracy from ballistic expert First-Class Constable Stephen Denholm.
The gun-sight was loose, so the expert tested the accuracy of the rifle from 80.3 metres, the distance police believe Mr Campbell was from the car when he fired the gun.
On first five occasions the bullet veered to the left of the target. The scope was removed for the sixth test and the bullet veered to the right.
The trial will continue on Thursday.