Woman pushed into grave in extortion bid

Last updated 00:00 08/03/2013

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A woman pushed into a backyard grave during a bungled extortion plot feared she would never see her family again, a Melbourne court has heard.

Darren Saltmarsh, 37, is accused of kidnapping the woman and holding her captive in a Melbourne house while he tried to extort money from her family overseas.

Frustrated by the lack of payment, Saltmarsh dug a grave in the backyard, blindfolded the woman and pushed her in, the Victorian Supreme Court has been told.

The woman said she sat in the grave pleading, "What are you going to do?" while Saltmarsh stood silent.

"This is my last (moment) ... I'm never going to see my family again," the woman, wiping away tears, said she had feared.

Moments later, police stormed the house in outer Melbourne to arrest Saltmarsh.

The woman, 29, said her hands and feet had been bound while she was held at the house for two days in October 2011.

At one point during the ordeal, Saltmarsh left her alone in the loungeroom and she attempted to dial triple-zero on his landline.

"I was just about to dial the number and my hands started shaking. I was so scared I could not dial the number."

Saltmarsh, of Endeavour Hills, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, making a threat to kill and attempted murder.

He met the woman, who cannot be named, on an online dating site and they eventually met at a Melbourne cafe in October 2011.

Prosecutors allege the pair met again weeks later, and Saltmarsh drove her to the outer Melbourne house, promising to introduce her to a friend.

Once there Saltmarsh allegedly threatened her with a knife.

Defence counsel David Hallowes said Saltmarsh had raised the possibility of a sham marriage, which would see him paid thousands in exchange for the woman taking permanent residency, at the pair's first meeting.

In cross-examination he put to the woman that after that meeting the pair had continued discussing the prospect.

The woman said she had never been interested.

Mr Hallowes put to her that she went voluntarily to the outer Melbourne house with Saltmarsh, which she denied.

Saltmarsh has pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, robbery, theft and extortion with a threat to kill.

The trial continues.

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- AAP

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