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Dumped over the phone

CHRIS THOMSON

A man who sent offensive text messages to his ex lover of six months after she broke up with him over the phone has had a violence restraining order and $33,000 of costs against him thrown out of court.

In a decision published yesterday, District Court Judge John Staude reversed a ruling by Magistrate Pamela Hogan who in May last year slapped a five-year VRO on William Arthur Walsh and ordered him to pay $33,606.65 in court costs.

Magistrate Hogan’s ruling came after a string of litigation that Judge Staude dubbed “extraordinary”, including a VRO hearing that lasted six days.

The magistrate had found Mr Walsh’s response to being “dumped over the phone” by his lover of six months, Alison Fay Baron, was “vitriolic and ongoing”.

Mr Walsh was aggrieved by the magistrate’s decision and appealed.

In response, Judge Staude found Magistrate Hogan had erred in finding Mr Walsh’s behaviour justified the imposition of a restraining order.

OFFENSIVE TEXTS

This was because “the relevant acts of abuse complained of by Ms Baron were merely offensive text messages sent between 19 and 22 January 2011 and three voicemail messages left between 20 and 24 January 2011 and did not involve any acts of physical violence”.

In an affidavit on April 12 last year, Ms Baron had said she discovered Mr Walsh was still living in the same house as his wife.

“He had previously told me he was divorced,” Ms Baron deposed.

“When I put it to him that he was still married he denied that he was.

“I didn’t believe him.

“The relationship deteriorated until 19 January 2011 when I got sufficient courage to tell him I did not want any further contact.”

After Ms Baron ended the relationship by phone that day she received 12 texts from Mr Walsh.

She said that some of the texts were abusive – including: ‘You low life piece of scum’; ‘You look like a f–king comic book’; ‘Should be in a freak show’.

Ms Baron said Mr Walsh phoned her six times in an hour the next morning, and she did not answer. She said he sent her nine texts that day, some of which contained threats.

She said that on January 22 Mr Walsh sent her six texts.

“On Monday, 24 January 2011 there were three messages from him on my work phone, two of which were abusive,” Ms Baron deposed.

“One of these messages threatened that ‘it’s all out war and I’ll keep going to get even with you’.

“‘You’ll get yours one day – not violence, nothing from me just karma, as a way of evening things up’.”

Before Magistrate Hogan, Ms Baron said she had reported the text and voicemail messages to police who had encouraged her to obtain a restraining order.

Her affidavit said that after an interim restraining order was issued on January 16 she “was still very frightened”.

‘HURT AND UPSET’

In his affidavit before the Magistrates Court hearing, Mr Walsh said he was “hurt and upset” at the time the relationship ended, and had apologised for what he had done.

He said his last text to Ms Baron was on February 9, 2011 – seven days before the interim restraining order was issued.

Mr Baron deposed it was normal throughout the relationship for Ms Baron to text him seven to eight times a day as well as call him three to six times a day.

He said she had sent lurid texts and naked photos of herself.

Mr Baron said he had never lived with Ms Baron and they had rarely seen each other more than once or twice a week.

He described the relationship as “volatile and unusual” but without any violence or threats of violence.

Judge Staude concluded that Mr Walsh’s immediate response to the termination of the six-month relationship was “undoubtedly disproportionate, offensive and vindictive”.

“The worst of his conduct, being the sending of the offensive texts, was short-lived and regretted by Mr Walsh,” Judge Staude noted.

“It was very distressing to Ms Baron.

“Ms Baron may have expected, upon her notifying Mr Walsh by telephone that their relationship was over, that he would simply acquiesce without fuss.

“But in the context of a relationship as passionate as Ms Baron’s pre-19 January 2011 texts and other evidence described it, such an expectation would have been extremely unrealistic.”

Judge Staude explained that the purpose of restraining orders was not to protect people from the “emotional fallout of a failed relationship, which may be bitter, spiteful and unpleasant”.

Instead, restraining orders were aimed at protecting people “from violence in the form of acts of abuse which, in such a case as this, include behaviour that is progressively and continuously, not occasionally, intimidating, offensive or emotionally abusive”.

“Mr Walsh’s proven behaviour does not satisfy that requirement,” Judge Staude concluded.

Image: www.freefoto.com

 

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