Neighbour faces court over Christmas axe murder
A DOTING dad was stabbed to death in a Christmas night axe murder which has rocked a tight-knit town and devastated a young family.
Ultima father-of-five Nick Bruton was attacked with an axe as he confronted a neighbour amid community concerns about anti-social behaviour in the town.
The small community, near Swan Hill, has been left reeling as they struggle to understand why the life of the innocent 39-year-old local was brutally cut short.
Murder accused Steven Dunn appeared in court via videolink for a brief filing hearing today.
The court heard he was suffering from several minor injuries caused by a motorcycle accident on December 24 and that he needed to see a psychiatric nurse.
"He has indicated he intends to stop eating," his lawyer said.
Mr Dunn at one stage interjected during the short filing hearing
"The man brought himself to my house and caused his own problem," Mr Dunn said
He was remanded in custody to reappear at the Mildura Magistrates' Court on May 1.
The 49-year-old was arrested after Mr Bruton was taken to hospital with serious stab wounds.
He was charged with murder at Swan Hill police station about 10pm last night after being questioned by detectives from the Homicide Squad who travelled to the town to begin an extensive probe into the death.
Police will allege Mr Dunn was at his Gladstone Ave property about 2am on December 26 when he attacked Mr Bruton.
Mr Bruton, who ran Swan Hill business Northern Tree Maintenance, leaves behind his wife Tash and their children, the youngest a baby just 10 months old.
In a heartfelt tribute posted to her Facebook page, Mr Bruton's daughter Kiara posted that she was trying to stay strong to support her family.
"It's been a rough day without you dad, i miss you a lot," she wrote.
"Thank you for everything you taught me throughout our time together.
"Tonight i was out late and I waited and waited for your name to pop up on my screen telling me to come home but it never did.
"I love you a lot dad miss you so much."
"He was taken so soon he was a great family man ... a very nice bloke (and) a great family friend," Donald Davis wrote in an online post.
Another friend said Mr Bruton was a "dear friend" and it was not fair his children would grow up without their dad.
Residents in Ultima have told police and the Herald Sun about bizarre behaviour by the murder accused.
"This is a small town - everyone is just in complete shock," one local said.
"He (Mr Dunn) is known around here."
A friend recalled that he last saw Mr Bruton on Christmas Eve as the dad was preparing to celebrate Christmas with his family.
"We just can't believe it," the friend said.
Relatives remain in town supporting the grieving wife and the couple's children.
Property records showed Mr Dunn has owned the Gladstone Ave home for six years after purchasing it for $160,000.