Animal cruelty case film lands dad in court

FILMING a mate's animal cruelty court case brought father-of-three Rhys Wilson before a magistrate for breaking the ban on photography inside at Maroochydore Court House.

Magistrate Haydn Stjernqvist stopped the sentence of 25-year-old Benjamin Gregory Vignes about 3.20pm on Thursday last week after he noticed a man holding up a mobile phone in the back row of the public gallery.

Vignes had pleaded guilty to letting a dog die in the boot of the hire car he was driving.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Rick Pallister this morning told the same magistrate in the same courtroom that Wilson, 30, had activated a mobile phone camera and filmed the proceedings.

"After a period of time, the magistrate has observed that action and instructed the defendant to stand," Sgt Pallister said.

"The prosecutor has seized the phone from the defendant."

When Wilson was asked if he was filming, he replied "yes".

He was taken to Maroochydore Police Station where video files about two-minutes in duration were viewed.

Duty lawyer Andrew Berneville-Claye said he did not have a problem with Mr Stjernqvist dealing with the offence he had detected.

"My client has indicated he was hoping to come back before you and face the music, so to speak," Mr Berneville-Claye said.

He tendered an apology written by Wilson to the court.

Mr Berneville-Claye said his client had been filming the proceedings at the request of Vignes' mother.

The court heard she was concerned about possible threats from the owners of the dog that had died.

"That defendant's mother had ... some issues or at least some contact, as I understand it, that made her particularly upset," he said.

"I think, to some extent, my client has come to the party to assist her."

Mr Berneville-Claye said his client knew there was a law against filming in the court but stupidly went ahead and did it anyway.

"He has particularly indicated to me that what he did was really an ill-thought of, stupid action."

He said Wilson had a good job as a marine diesel engineer and was married with three children.

Mr Stjernqvist noted Wilson had no criminal history.

"It was all very avoidable this," Mr Stjernqvist said.

"All you had to do was think about it."

Wilson was fined $450 and the phone used to film the court proceeding was forfeited to the Crown.

No conviction was recorded.


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