15 March 2023

Father retaliated against CYPS workers when his kids were taken into care

| Albert McKnight
ACT Law Courts

A man has been sentenced to jail for stalking three CYPS workers. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A father who retaliated with “information warfare” against three Child and Youth Protection Services (CYPS) workers after his children were taken into care has been handed a jail sentence.

CYPS had taken emergency action and removed the two young children from the care of the man and his partner in 2021, the ACT Magistrates Court heard.

Court proceedings began and in December 2021 he started sending offensive and intimidating texts to one worker. Another messaged him to set a boundary, but he sent more intimidating and personal messages.

For instance, he used a website to trigger an email to the workers’ group account suggesting one had a sexually transmitted infection in January 2022.

This worker started to get unusual texts and calls. The man also put an ad on the online marketplace Gumtree suggesting she was a sex worker, even though she wasn’t.

READ ALSO Falun Gong protester assaulted by man who thought her signs were ‘an affront to his homeland’

The man also caused beyondblue to send a message to her, suggesting she needed assistance with a work matter over a pregnancy.

“Each of those steps was clearly designed to intimidate and harass the complainants,” Magistrate Glenn Theakston told the court on Tuesday (14 March), saying the man had launched “information warfare” against the workers.

He said CYPS workers had a difficult job at the best of times and noted how sometimes children needed help as their parents couldn’t provide it.

The magistrate said the man’s behaviour was clearly focused on the workers and was designed to intimidate and harass them.

“It was retaliation, rather than advocating his position,” he said.

“It was designed to inflict emotional and psychological pain.

“He took a cowardly approach … and in a faceless way made the women’s lives very, very difficult.”

Pierre Johannessen of Johannessen Legal argued the man had made “several outbursts of emotions” because “in my client’s eyes, his children were being taken away from him”.

He argued that the man, who came from a poor socioeconomic background, didn’t appreciate the effect his behaviour had on the workers.

“Nothing takes precedence over his children,” he said.

READ ALSO Magistrate who told society to ‘wake up’ was too emotive, appeal finds

Prosecutor Sam Bargwanna argued the messages that were sent were threatening and sexual in nature, and while the man hadn’t made the threats face-to-face, he said it would still have been “quite a scary experience” for the CYPS workers.

The offences were committed while the man was on bail for other matters and he had originally contested the charges, only pleading guilty on the morning of the hearing in which he was planning to fight them.

The man, who legally can’t be named, pleaded guilty in December 2022 to three counts of stalking, as well as single counts of using a carriage service to menace and damaging property.

He was convicted and sentenced to six months’ jail, backdated to his arrest in March 2022, which means the time has been served. He remains in custody over unrelated Supreme Court matters.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.