Council loses sign battle against Patricia Petersen
RATEPAYERS could be forced to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees and damages after Ipswich City Council lost a dogged campaign against political aspirant Patricia Petersen.
The council waged a three-year legal campaign against Ms Petersen over the placement of signs in the 2013 federal election.
Council claimed Ms Petersen was in breach of local laws when her election signs appeared on September 2, 5 and 6, 2013 in the suburbs of Riverview, Collingwood Park and Chuwar.
It claimed Ms Petersen required a permit to erect the signs - a claim she did not deny.
Ipswich City Council took Ms Petersen to court over the matter, and the trial got underway on April 29, 2015.
Central to the case was whether Ms Petersen put the signs there herself, or enabled them to be placed there on her behalf.
Six council employees gave evidence at the trial and Ms Petersen was subsequently found guilty and fined $25,000.
Ms Petersen appealed the decision to the Ipswich District Court on the grounds the magistrate erred as there was insufficient evidence produced at trial to back up council's claims.
Her legal team argued, during a hearing on December 8, 2015, the evidence did not establish beyond reasonable doubt Ms Petersen erected the signs or enabled them to be erected on her behalf.
Judge Sarah Bradley, in handing down her decision on Friday, agreed, saying Ms Petersen had no case to answer and no evidence had been produced to prove otherwise.
Judge Bradley ordered the convictions and penalties be set aside and further ordered the charges be expunged.
The matter was adjourned until February 3, when Ms Petersen is expected to make an application for legal costs and damages.