Man uses religious beliefs to defend stalking charge

A 56-YEAR-old man who used his Christian beliefs as an excuse to defy court orders has received a 12-month suspended jail sentence.

Stuart Bowers, of Iluka, appeared in Grafton Local Court to face eight charges of breaching aggravated violence orders and entering private property without consent over two days in July.

The court heard that Bowers was subject to a good behaviour bond at the time, after he had been charged and convicted of breaching protection orders relating to the same victim just weeks earlier.

Police said Bowers breached the AVOs on July 26 and 27 by stalking the victim as she drove around Iluka and appearing at the victim's house in contravention of the court orders.

He was arrested and charged on July 28 when he told police he believed the victim to be "evil" and "enjoying what was taking place".

In court, Bowers' solicitor Greg Coombes said his client had strong Christian beliefs which made it hard for him to accept his divorce from his wife of 22 years, with whom he had four children.

Mr Coombes said his client held his beliefs in such high regard that he continued to try to save his marriage even 13 months after separating.

He also said there were some custody issues and his client had health problems after a hip operation.

Magistrate Robyn Denes said she feared Bowers must be lying to the court.

"That's the story he told me last time," she said. "He said it was because of his Christian beliefs, which is one of the reasons I put him on such a relatively short bond.

"Now it seems what he told me last time was not the truth."

Ms Denes said it was only on July 11 that she put Bowers on the bond and less than two weeks later, he re-offended.

Police said in an interview after his arrest Bowers told them he would continue trying to fix his marriage for as long as he believed it could be done. This led them to conclude Bowers had no regard for the enforceable orders.

Ms Denes said she noted Bowers had pleaded guilty to the charges and had a relatively clean record.

"Because of that, you're not going to jail today," she said.



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