Big Rob was posting on Facebook on Thursday instead of appearing in the Lismore District Court to hear the judgement that dismissed his appeal against an interim apprehended personal violence order involving the Lismore Mayor.
Cr Isaac Smith applied for the apprehended personal violence order APVO against Mr Rob on February 8, claiming he was the victim of five years of harassment and intimidation on Facebook, which he said had escalated since he became mayor.
He previously told the court he and his wife felt harassed and intimidated by Mr Rob and feared for the safety of their family.
Supporting the application was a 24 minute video Mr Rob filmed and posted on Facebook, the day he got the APVO from police, showing Mr Smith’s house in the background, and screenshots of Facebook photos of the mayoral car outside the house displaying L plates.
An appeal against the APVO was lodged with court by Mr Rob on the same day he was informed by police of the application being lodged.
District Court started as scheduled at 10 am on Thursday, but when Mr Rob hadn’t shown up, Judge Laura Wells adjourned proceedings until 11 am to give him a chance to arrive.
By 11.15 am, Judge Wells wasn’t waiting any along and confirmed with Mr Smith’s barrister Michael McCall they could proceed without Mr Rob present.
‘The court is informed from various sources that posts are being made on his Facebook page,’ Judge Wells said.
‘It’s been an hour and he’s posting on Facebook and it would appear that no misadventure has occurred.’
‘The date this matter was put over to was made clear to him.’
Under the Crimes review and Appeal Act, section 28, subsection two, the District Court can perform any function the Local Court does, permitting the oral judgement, Judge Wells and Mr McCall agreed.
In making her judgement, Judge Wells considered Mr Rob’s 86 paragraph affidavit containing legal submissions, evidence and statements against the APVO and Mr Smith’s submissions showing screen shot evidence of posts, videos and statements.
Mr Rob claimed the interim APVO should be invalid due to Local Court Magistrate David Heilpern’s actual and apprehended bias which was evident from his previous dealings with him.
Judge Wells described Mr Rob’s conduct on Facebook as both intimidating and harassing.
‘It was intimidation by technologically assisted means, namely his Facebook account, that falls within the guidelines of intimidation within the act,’ she said.
‘(His posts were) an implicit invitation to others to make intimidating or harassing comments.’
Judge Wells ruled that Mr Rob’s submissions identified no actual or apprehended bias.
‘There is a degree of contradiction and confusion in the written submissions he made,’ she said.
‘No specific evidence is advanced beyond the bold and general assertions.’
‘There can simply be no conclusion of bias on the part of the magistrate, whether or not matters heard by this magistrate have been overturned on appeal.’
In dismissing the appeal, Judge Wells said Mr Smith had satisfied the onus of proof and the APVO was to be made in the same terms as ordered by magistrate Heilpern.
An application for costs was then lodged by Mr McCabe, with Judge Wells granting Mr Rob three weeks to file written submissions to the application.
Her finding on costs will be handed down after reviewing the submissions.