A former Australian soldier with PTSD has pleaded guilty to storming an animal shelter and keeping a woman captive over his missing cat.
Tony Wittman, 45, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court by videolink on Monday from the Ravenhall Correctional Centre and admitted responsibility over the bizarre incident earlier this year at the Lost Dogs’ Home in Cranbourne West.
It comes after his lawyers managed to strike a deal with prosecutors to withdraw 16 charges.
The father-of-three from Langwarrin will now have his case uplifted to the County Court of Victoria on eight charges including false imprisonment, aggravated burglary, criminal damage, perjury and carrying an imitation firearm.
In January this year, Wittman called the Lost Dogs’ Home about 10 minutes before closing time looking for his missing cat.
A staff member told him that they had found the feline, but that he would have to make an appointment to collect the cat the following morning.
But later that night, Wittman took matters into his own hands.
About 10:20pm, the former soldier forced his way onto the grounds of the shelter while dressed in full military-style SWAT clothing and carrying an imitation firearm, according to court documents.
He then confronted a young ranger in the car park and said:
“If you do as I say and listen to me, I won’t shoot you.”
The court previously heard the woman pleaded with Wittman not to harm her, telling him she was the mother of a young child, to which he said: “Don’t try anything or I’ll shoot you.”
The pair then walked into the shelter where Wittman interrogated her about where the cats were.
He then told the woman to get on her knees and put her hands behind her back, before tying her up and telling her: “I’m going to close this door, if I see you, I’ll shoot you.”
Soldier ‘relied on cat for support’
The whole incident was captured on the shelter’s security cameras.
Wittman then fled before the woman called her boss who alerted the authorities.
In another twist, Wittman returned to the shelter less than 12 hours later to keep his appointment and collect his cat.
He made full admissions to police during an interview later that same day, telling investigators that he “loves his cat and relies on his cat for support”.
Wittman also told police that he had PTSD from military service and “he felt like he needed to get the cat back and he acted without thinking about the consequences”.
He will return to the County Court in February next year, and did not apply for bail.