News

Coast man's Facebook posts could cost him $750,000

SOCIAL DANGERS: A Coast man has landed in court for posting about another person on Facebook.
SOCIAL DANGERS: A Coast man has landed in court for posting about another person on Facebook. Brett Wortman

A COAST man accused of posting defamatory comments on Facebook about a boxing gym owner and trainer will be allowed to defend himself against the $750,000 civil suit.

Gary Desmond 'Budgie' Hill brought legal action against Daniel John 'Danny' Hope in February last year, claiming Mr Hill posted false and defamatory imputations about Mr Hill's sexual activities and made about how he conducted his business.

Mr Hill claimed the Facebook posts, made between January 2014 and January 2016, caused him personal distress, hurt and embarrassment and damaged his reputation.

He sought up to $750,000 in damages plus interest and legal costs, as well as an order for Mr Hope to take down defamatory words he had published on Facebook.

It was alleged the posts made Mr Hill sound like "a coward, a person who engaged in and orchestrates physical attacks on unsuspecting persons in the company of others, a bludger who lives off the industry of others and the community, was lazy, unintelligent and greedy".

On January 31 a court ordered Mr Hope to pay damages to Mr Hill, to be assessed by the court, because he had not filed a notice of intention to defend the defamation claim against him.

In a fresh judgment handed down on Thursday, Judge Gary Long set aside that order, saying Mr Hope - who was representing himself in court - did not understand the complexities of the civil suit.

"It is clear that an explanation for the failure of the applicant (Mr Hope) to defend in time lies in his demonstrated lack of understanding of the complexities and difficulties confronting him," Judge Long said.

In an affidavit filed on April 11 Mr Hope said he emailed Mr Hill's solicitors in March last year, clearly stating his position.

"I freely admit that I have in the past made reference to Mr Hill and physical attacks made on my person by Mr Hill. I also admit that I placed these remarks onto Facebook," he said in the court document.

He claimed a hacker had made the other posts.

"Exhibit 'A' makes it very clear to Mr Hill's legal team that my Facebook account seems to have been 'hacked' and that the remarks made on this social page were not made by myself and I am not aware of the identity of the person/s who did post these remarks," he said.

"After this insidious attack on my personal computer and my Facebook account I took the computer to a computer specialist ... who updated the software and virus programs as well as a new hard drive."

Judge Long said the letter made clear the contention about the posting by a hacker related to statements which were alleged to defame Mr Hill in respect of his sexual activities or proclivities.

He said there was enough to indicate a prima facie defence on the merits of the issues raised in the Statement of Claim.

Topics:  defamation facebook maroochydore district court



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