Joel Vankerkoerle. Picture: Facebook.
Joel Vankerkoerle. Picture: Facebook.

Five years jail for shooting into child’s bedroom

A DRIVE-BY shooter who fired a bullet into a seven-year-old girl's bedroom has been jailed for five years.

Joel Vankerkoerle was high on a cocktail of ice and Xanax tablets when he pointed a sawn-off shotgun at a house on Alkira Ave, Norlane in September last year.

The 22-year-old fired into the home from the passenger seat of a car, with a bullet piercing a front bedroom window and lodging in a wall.

The room belonged to a young girl who, in a stroke of luck, had been staying at her grandmother's house.

One hour after the first shot was fired, Vankerkoerle returned to the scene of the crime and blasted another bullet into the home.

Four adults were inside the house at the time but escaped injuries.

Vankerkoele, of Norlane pleaded guilty in Geelong County Court yesterday to reckless conduct endangering life and separate charges including trafficking ice.

The court heard Vankerkoerle, now 23, fired into the home to intimidate his partner's ex-boyfriend, who was living there.

The former KFC worker had sent threatening messages to the man two hours before the first shot was fired at 7.15am on a Friday morning.

One of the messages read: "Boom boom for you ... Time to play, ha ha."

Vankerkoerle returned at 8.20am and fired a second shot, with the bullet lodging in a ceiling.

Five minutes later, he taunted his intended victim in a recorded voice message sent through Facebook, saying: "The games have just begun. Wait until I get the rest of you with my gun."

Vankerkoerle then threatened to kill members of the man's family.

In a bizarre twist, it was revealed in court that Vankerkoerle was a "good friend" with one of the other men inside the home when he fired into it.

Vankerkoerle did not know the friend was in the house until after the incident.

He remained at large for a week before police pounced on him in a car at Drumcondra, where they found him with the loaded shotgun, large amounts of ammunition and more than 25g of ice.

Defence barrister Nicholas Goodfellow told the court Vankerkoerle felt he was "being baited" leading up to the shooting incident.

He said his client was a heavy drug user who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the stabbing death of his friend at 15.

Judge Gerard Mullaly said the shooting was particularly concerning given members of the public would have been on their way to school or work.

"The community is just sick of criminals with petty disputes using firearms in suburban streets to wage battles with others in their world," he said.

Judge Mullaly said Vankerkoerle's offending was "outrageous" and could have easily led to multiple deaths.

Vankerkoerle showed no emotion as his sentence was delivered.

He will be eligible for parole after serving two years and nine months.

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