A 21-year-old producer for YouTube comedian Friendlyjordies has been charged with allegedly stalking and intimidating the New South Wales Deputy Premier, John Barilaro.
Kristo Langker was arrested at his family’s home in Dulwich Hill by detectives from the Fixated Persons Investigations Unit.
They subsequently charged him with two counts of “stalk or intimidate intending to cause fear of physical or mental harm”.
The arrest, and unit used, has caused widespread outrage.
The Fixated Persons Investigations Unit, established after the Lindt Café siege claims to focus on ‘lone actors’ who are at risk of partaking in grievance-fuelled violence.
It aims to target those who show the warning signs of extremism but have not reached a threshold at which they would be addressed by the counter-terrorism command.
“This is a gross misappropriation of what the Fixated Persons Unit was set up for and bends the definition of stalking beyond its intended purpose.” commented Former Federal Agent working in Counter Terrorism, Carrick Ryan.
The arrest comes after a feud between the parties, with Mr Barilaro launching legal action against Jordan Shanks, also known as Friendlyjordies, for allegedly defamatory videos.
The current case before the Federal Circuit Court, centres on videos accusing Mr Barilaro of corruption, which his legal team has branded ‘vile and racist’.
NSW Police have stated that the first of the alleged offences concerning Mr Langker occurred on April 19 at Macquarie University where Mr Barilaro was speaking.
The incident was showcased in a video posted to the Friendlyjordies YouTube channel named ‘bruz: eternal’.
Footage shows Mr Langker and Mr Shanks, along with a film crew, attending a public university event at which Mr Barilaro was a special guest.
Langker questions Barilaro: “why are you suing us” whilst being pushed by various members in attendance.
The second event occurred in Sydney on June 4, the same day Mr Langker was arrested.
This interaction was also filmed, with Langker allegedly spotting Barilaro whilst walking to his university in the city.
He walks up to Barilaro getting into his car stating: “oi John…..you’re suing my boss!”
Lawyers for Mr Langker said they were “highly disturbed” by “misinformation that police appear to have acted upon”.
“We have the video of the interaction with the Deputy Premier and it does not appear to accord with the police facts” they claimed in a media statement.
The incident has caused widespread outrage, with politicians and journalists concerned at its implications for the right to hold our representatives to account.
“There are many journalists across Australia who’ll be in trouble if this is grounds for arrest…The implications for free speech and civil liberties are extremely disturbing.” commented NSW State Member for Murray, Helen Dalton.
“Regardless of your political affiliations we should be very disturbed when governments try and silence dissent,” she continued.
Langker’s lawyers have labelled his imposed bail conditions as ‘bizarre’, as they include that he is unable to posses of share images or caricatures of Mr Barilaro and is unable to comment on his personal appearance or behaviour.
The Chaser’s Dom Knight commented: “It might have been difficult to make the Chaser shows given this interpretation of the law. We went up to certain politicians an awful lot of times.”
“I don’t know how many times we interrupted John Howard’s morning walk, but it must have been well into double figures.”
Throughout Howard’s term in Parliament, antics by The Chaser included trying to greet the then Prime Minister with a fake axe and switched-on chain saw.
Pursuant to section 13 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (NSW), it is an offence to stalk or intimidate another person with the intention of causing the other person to fear physical or mental harm.
The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 5 years, and/or a $5,500 fine.
A person intends to cause fear of physical or mental harm if they know that the conduct is likely to cause fear in the other person.
Notably, the prosecution is not required to prove that the person alleged to have been stalked or intimidated actually feared physical or mental harm.
Pursuant to section 7 of the Act, intimidation means:
- conduct (including cyberbullying) amounting to harassment or molestation of the person,
- an approach made to the person by any means (including by telephone, telephone text messaging, e-mailing and other technologically assisted means) that causes the person to fear for their safety, or
- any conduct that causes a reasonable apprehension of injury to a person or to a person with whom they have a domestic relationship, or of violence or damage to any person or property.
Pursuant to section 8 of the Act, stalking means:
- the following of a person about,
- the watching or frequenting of the vicinity of, or an approach to, a person’s place of residence, business or work or any place that a person frequents for the purposes of any social or leisure activity,
- contacting or otherwise approaching a person using the internet or any other technologically assisted means.
In some cases, some threats may only be seen as blusterm, not amounting to ‘intimidation’ (Kelly v R ).
Click here for an outline on the defences to the charge of stalking or intimidation in NSW.
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