One of the few and very lucky survivors of Melbourne's gangland war is fighting a new battle - for his liberty.
With most of the war's players dead or in jail or still looking over their shoulders, Bert Wrout now stares down the barrel of an immediate prison sentence.
Wrout, 66, was shot and seriously wounded when two gunmen burst into the Brunswick club in March 2004.
He was blasted by a man who cannot be named while Wrout's friend and drinking companion, crime figure Lewis Moran, was shot and killed.
Evangelous Goussis, who pleaded not guilty, was convicted earlier this year of the murder and of causing Wrout serious injury.
Wrout lost his spleen, suffered damage to his liver and kidney and has pulmonary tract problems.
Wrout was excused from giving evidence at Goussis' trial, and today in Melbourne Magistrates Court, claimed he was unfit to answer a series of serious driving charges.
If the charges are heard and Wrout is convicted, he faces an immediate four-month term from a suspended sentence in March, which has allegedly been breached by further offending.
His lawyer, Jim Buchecker, said Wrout had been found unfit to plead by a pyschologist in September.
He tendered a series of medical reports including one that found Wrout could not give meaningful legal instructions.
Wrout was found to be mentally fragile, confused, incoherent, anxious and stressed.
But police prosecutor, Senior Constable Clive Dutton, argued that Wrout's fears of being murdered, as expressed by psychologist Bernard Healy, have now passed and were irrelevant to the driving charges.
Magistrate Simon Garnett said Wrout's application to be declared mentally unfit to plead required a full, proper and independent investigation.
He adjourned the hearing until February for Wrout to be assessed by a forensic psychologist.
(Credit: The Age)
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