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STUNNING RESULT: Court clears Petros of stalking Lauga

Free and clear Petros Khalesirad leaving the Rockhampton Court house didn't have a case to answer.
Free and clear Petros Khalesirad leaving the Rockhampton Court house didn't have a case to answer. Chris Ison ROK231117cpetros1

A MAGISTRATE has ruled freelance journalist Petros Khalesirad has no case to answer in relation to a charge of stalking Keppel MP Brittany Lauga.

Mr Khalesirad, 36, is now seeking full legal costs, which Magistrate Cameron Press is considering and will deliver an answer at a later date.

The court heard Mr Khalesirad was charged in August 2016 with stalking Keppel MP Brittany Lauga over a period of six-months in 2016 after she asked if he had a criminal history as she determined his suitability to be involved with a public youth event.

The stalking allegation involved Mr Khalesirad posting Mrs Lauga's mobile number on Facebook, photographs of her house, asking about her husband's health through her neighbours and forwarding a photograph indicating the MP may have been texting and driving at the same time.

"I am incredibly disappointed by the decision today," Mrs Lauga said in a statement outside court.

 

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga was disappointed by the result handing down at the Rockhampton courthouse yesterday.
Keppel MP Brittany Lauga was disappointed by the result handing down at the Rockhampton courthouse yesterday. Kerri-Anne Mesner

"I'm disappointed that the court has made this decision, however I will not let the court's decision get in the way of my dedication, persistence and hard work for the community as your local MP.

"Politics can be a nasty business, but I remain determined not to stoop to the level of those who seek to destroy my reputation."

The trial, which was part heard in July/August, resumed this week, hearing evidence from Mrs Lauga, her neighbours and the arresting police officer Detective Senior Constable Salli Cohen from the Yeppoon Police Station.

During yesterday's sitting, the court had the video recording of the first police interview with Iran-born Nerimbera resident Khalesirad on August 27, 2016, where he told police "This is tyranny".

He went on to talk about how he was a freelance journalist and law student, among other self-employed work he carried out including IT work.

Mr Khalesirad informed police during his interview he had 30 Facebook accounts with numerous people having access to post content or reply via messenger to those accounts. He said he works as a freelance journalists to hold politicians accountable.

 

Accused stalker Petros Khalesirad leaving the Rockhampton Court house has now been cleared.
Accused stalker Petros Khalesirad leaving the Rockhampton Court house has now been cleared. Chris Ison ROK231117cpetros3

"I'm not Ray Hadley," Mr Khalesirad said in the interview.

He later said "I've heard Alan Jones say worse" after being questioned about why he referred to Mrs Lauga as 'Minister for Trailer Trash Brittany Hutchinson'.

"I consider Brittany Lauga to be dishonest and vindictive," he said. "I am not a physical threat to the Member of Parliament.

"I have a history of working with politicians even as far back as Robert Schwarten...I used to deal with Robert Schwarten and I hate his guts now."

Mr Khalesirad told the officer he published Mrs Lauga's mobile phone number after requests by the public for ways to contact their MP and that it was a public number paid for by taxpayers and available on other websites.

He said the photographs of Mrs Lauga's house were also published elsewhere after Mr Lauga won an award for their garden.

The court heard Mr Khalesirad had asked questions of Mrs Lauga's neighbours about Mrs Lauga's dog and movements. However, those questions were not in the stalking period before the court. They were asked after Cyclone Marcia in 2015 and after Mrs Lauga's dog had been bitten by a snake.

When Det Cohen asked Mr Khalesirad about Facebook posts on accounts with his name making references to Mrs Lauga and her husband Wayne's former employer Hutchinson Builders, he told her there was an ongoing investigation into that and "it's above your pay grade".

Det Cohen, during a second interview that day where she was joined by Detective Angus Kerr, referred to a letter from the Crime and Corruption Commission to Mrs Lauga about allegations she was using her position as a politician to influence other people to stop her husband being criminally charged in relation to the building costs over run and for the matter not to be made public.

The trial heard that Mrs Lauga was not aware of the full extent of a massive $273,000 blowout in the cost of building the family home which was being constructed by Hutchinson Builders.

Mr Khalesirad's lawyer Greg McGuire read out part of the letter including where the CCC said they had concluded their investigation and due to "absence of information" they could take the matter no further. The court heard Det Cohen had indicated to Mr Khalesirad during his police interview that she understood that sentence to mean Mrs Lauga was "exonerated".

Mr McGuire made the 'no case' application on the grounds that Mr Khalesirad did not follow Mrs Lauga or watch her continually, he did not threaten or carry out acts of violence and his acts alone did not cause "serious mental detriment" as the prosecution was required by law to prove.

Magistrate Cameron Press asked police prosecutor Clancy Fox "where is the evidence of serious mental detriment?" and pointed out no medical professional reports or evidence was tendered during the trial.

Mr McGuire said a photograph showing Mrs Lauga allegedly driving and texting at the same time was not taken by Mr Khalesirad, only provided to him.

Topics:  brittany lauga petros khalesirad rockhampton magistrates court tmbcourt


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