Police stalking claim costs man
ANNOYED Nimbin man Graham Bellette is likely to steer clear of clogging up the courts in fruitless litigation after being ordered to pay the $10,000 legal costs of a Nimbin police officer who he wrongly accused of stalking him.
“I will need 20 years to pay this,’ Mr Bellette exclaimed visibly annoyed, after being ordered by Lismore Local Court magistrate Nicholas Reimer to pay the $10, 426 legal costs of constable Mark Puglisi.
“That you can take up with the court office, not for me to deal with,” Mr Reimer replied.
Mr Reimer called his court matter ‘frivolous and vexatious’.
Mr Bellette pulled the plug on his unsubstantiated allegations of intimidation and stalking at the last minute in court this week, after persisting for months in pursuing his application for an Apprehended Violence Order only to withdraw it.
This was despite the Crown Solicitors Office sending him warning letters it would make application to have him pay for the police officer’s legal costs.
Mr Bellette’s accusations were subject to internal police investigations by Inspector Bill McKenna who found ‘no factual basis’ that Const Puglisi, a well-regarded officer, had been acting outside his official duties in any dealings with Mr Bellette.
Allegations included Const Puglisi going ‘uninvited’ into the Nimbin caravan park where he lived and looking though windows of his caravan.
He also accused the officer of intimidating him at the Lismore Court House.
Mr Bellette began yelling out ‘Help, I want protection’ and ‘He is looking at me, I feel intimidated’, when the officer walked past him.
The matter began last year when const Puglisi was called to the caravan park by its manager who accused Bellette of assaulting him.
The assault matter was finalised in court against Mr Bellette.
In a statement before the court, Senior Constable Simon Fogarty revealed Mr Bellette called out to him in Lismore Court House, ‘I’m going to have your job and Puglisi’s’ as he walked past.
Detective sergeant Matthew Keogh gave evidence of the time waste the matter had caused.
He said he had many officers attending the court for the hearing that day causing problems in the staff roster at Nimbin, with five officers placed on standby.
There had also been the time spent in preparation of statements and witness conferences adding up to many man hours.
Det Keogh suggested that ‘all up’ is was likely 100 police man hours had been wasted in the matter.
The Crown Solicitors Office barrister submitted the final legal costs at $10,426. It did not include the hours of wages paid to the police officers.
Mr Bellette said he dropped the matter because there had been no more ‘unauthorised police patrols’ by his home since he spoke to a new sergeant. He had also dropped a matter before the Lismore District Court.
Mr Reimer said he had read all the material before the court and the allegations had been fully investigated by police.