Magistrate tells harassed man to get off Facebook

Magistrate Barry Cosgrove told Ayden John Marshall, “If you don’t like what’s on Facebook, get off it”.
Magistrate Barry Cosgrove told Ayden John Marshall, “If you don’t like what’s on Facebook, get off it”. Chris Ison

A VICIOUS attack, triggered by comments on Facebook, sent one young man to hospital and another to court.

An 18-year-old Yeppoon man faced a clearly frustrated magistrate last Friday when he appeared in Yeppoon Magistrates Court charged with assault occasioning bodily harm and with menacing, harassing and offensive use of a mobile phone.

Magistrate Barry Cosgrove told Ayden John Marshall, "If you don't like what's on Facebook, get off it".

On January 15 this year, 18-year-old Troy Sellwood told police how he was grabbed by the throat, punched in the face and rendered unconscious by Marshall at a party at Hidden Valley four days earlier.

He had been taken to Yeppoon Hospital with damage to his teeth and jaw.

Three days later, Mr Sellwood went to police again with two recorded phone calls in which Marshall identified himself and repeatedly threatened to kill him, burn down his house and kill everyone in it.

During a police interview on January 19, Marshall said he had received a call saying his victim was at the Hidden Valley party, which he then attended with the intention of starting a fight.

Police prosecutor, Paige Barrow told the court Marshall was already on probation for a traffic matter and had been convicted of assault in 2012 and public nuisance in 2011.

She said the blow to the head could have been fatal and there was no other suitable penalty than a term of imprisonment.

Marshall appeared nervous and subdued in court and fidgeted constantly as evidence against him was read out.

He was represented by Karen Perrin, of Madden's Solicitors, who said the victim had words with her client on Facebook after a friend had split with his girlfriend.

She said Marshall had attended the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Service of his own accord and cancelled his Facebook page.

But Mr Cosgrove told Marshall drunkenness was no excuse for thumping people to the head and he needed to address his problem with alcohol.

"All this arose from Facebook," he said.

"If someone calls your friend a name, what does it matter … sticks and stones.

"You're like a little bunch of kids running around because someone said naughty things on Facebook.

Mr Cosgrove said the court took the matter very seriously when he convicted Marshall and sentenced him to six months in prison, wholly suspended.

He was ordered to pay Troy Sellwood $3477 in restitution, $500 for threatening phone calls, $300 for breach of probation and $800 for the original traffic offence.

A recent survey showed about 10% of Facebook users said they took a break from the site, because the added drama in their lives was wearing on them.

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Topics:  facebook magistrates court yeppoon

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