ONLINE COMMENT: Robert Newburn's post on Facebook earned him a date in court.
ONLINE COMMENT: Robert Newburn's post on Facebook earned him a date in court. Ross Irby

Inflammatory Facebook post comes back to bite

AN IPSWICH man has been fined $150 over leaving inflammatory posts on a Facebook site.

Robert Newburn used phrases including "a total nut job" and a "sicco bitch from hell", Ipswich Magistrates Court was told this week.

The comments were made in June 2016, causing Magistrate David Shepherd to query the police prosecutor as to why it had taken so long to bring to court.

It was revealed the Commonwealth offence charge was made three months ago because police only recently received a complaint about the post.

Robert Leslie Newburn, 56, from Riverview, pleaded guilty to using a carriage service to menace, harass, or cause offence on June 3, 2016.

Prosecutor Sergeant Paul Caldwell said there had been ongoing issues between the woman and Newburn.

He said the comments were posted on a Facebook site called, Rip Offs Beware List Ipswich and Logan.

"He publicly shamed her, and made fun of her," Sgt Caldwell said.

He read the posts onto the court record that named the woman, with Newburn speaking of his dealings with her and the European model car she drove.

"She doesn't pay her bills and owed us money for over a year, and is a total nut job. When we asked for it back she turned into a sicco bitch from hell.

"She is a pathological liar. Beware of this scumbag."

Sgt Caldwell said the woman went to Goodna police station to complain in April this year.

The court heard Newburn was interviewed and had been very co-operative with police.

Mr Shepherd said it was an indictable offence under the Crimes Act, with a maximum penalty of more than 12 months' jail.

He noted there was no explanation before the court as to why it had taken the woman three years to complain.

Newburn, who represented himself in court, was asked what he had to say on the matter.

"Your honour, I thought this had all gone away a long time ago," he said.

"I was very remorseful, regretful and I deleted the post and my page from the whole website."

Newburn explained it was his page with, "a limited audience. Yes, it was a closed page."

"I have not been working. I was recovering from a heart attack which has put great financial strain on us," Newburn said.

"My world has turned around."

Mr Shepherd said it was a relevant feature that the matter was not investigated until three years after with no explanation provided. He said the issue appears to have arisen with Mr Newburn's frustration with someone who he had a disagreement with.

"Perhaps it is a lesson to everybody, that posting offensive content online can become a criminal charge," Mr Shepherd said.

He noted that it did not incite any violence or create offence in other ways, except in the personal description of the woman.

Finding it to be a relatively minor example of the offence, Mr Shepherd fined Newburn $150. A conviction was not recorded.