Accused MP stalker sent ‘menacing’ texts: Court

Goulburn MP Pru GowardA local man has been ordered to stay away from Goulburn MP Pru Goward at least until court matters have been heard.

Goulburn Local Court yesterday upheld an interim apprehended violence order against John Plews made by police on Ms Goward’s behalf.

The 61-year-old is accused of sending hundreds of “harassing and menacing” text messages to the MP, which were also forwarded to people in the electorate.

The order stipulates that Mr Plews is not to approach, molest, assault, stalk, intimidate Ms Goward or her daughter or go within 50 metres of her house or residence.

He must also not contact her in any way.

Police confiscated Mr Plews’ phone after last Thursday charging him with one count of stalk/intimidate – intending fear or personal harm, and two counts of using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend.

It is alleged the charges relate to three separate victims, including Ms Goward and Goulburn Liberal Party branch president, Grant Pearce.

The court on Wednesday heard a police application for a provisional AVO on the MP’s behalf.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Chris Toole said the Order was tied directly to the three charges, due to be heard in the same court on March 4.

“What will be relied upon in those matters is the basis of the AVO,” he said.

Mr Plews, who represented himself, said those charges would be “strongly and vigorously defended.”

He plans to contest the Order.

Magistrate Carolyn Huntsman accordingly adjourned the matter to March 4 to be heard with the other charges.

Mr Plews questioned whether that was necessary.

He told the court he wanted his phone back to maintain contact with the Electoral Funding Authority and the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

“I don’t need to tell you who she is,” he said to the magistrate.“I have been a very prominent supporter and friend of hers. I have been subjected to this AVO so I can’t raise very controversial issues before March 28 (the state election).”

Mr Plews also made other unsubstantiated claims about the MP.

At this stage the magistrate warned him he had the right to remain silent and she would not hear claims before the March 4 criminal matters.

Mr Plews also asked for a variation of his bail conditions.

Magistrate Huntsman said these conditions were not before her but there were provisos attached to the AVO.

He pointed out that every time he had to attend court he passed within 50m of Ms Goward’s office, which was a breach of the Order.

Magistrate Huntsman advised him to go another way.

Sergeant Toole opposed any move to return Mr Plews’ phone.

“The phone was seized pursuant to police obligations,” he said.“…If he desires his phone back, he can apply but we expect it will be kept and tendered as an exhibit in the criminal matters.”

The magistrate said she had no powers to return the phone.

Mr Plews undertook to abide by all AVO conditions but pointed out it was “a small town.”

“If I see (her) I will cross the street as quickly as possible but there are many functions which we both attend,” he said.“…(But) I will certainly be fulfilling my obligations.”

Magistrate Huntsman continued the AVO under interim conditions until March 4.

Mr Plews told the court he intended to represent himself on that day and for preliminary hearings but would brief a senior counsel after that.

Ms Goward was not in court on Thursday.

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