Texting lands couple in court

SENDING foul-mouthed, inflammatory and derogatory text messages can lead to hefty fines and a stern warning from a magistrate.

Just ask Ronald William Albert and Julie Meikle, who both pleaded guilty to one count each of using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence in Emerald Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Robyn Schapcott told the court of a friendship break-up in November last year between Mr Albert and Ms Meikle and another man.

Following the friendship break-up, Mr Albert and Ms Meikle both moved to Capella and began to ring and send harassing messages to the other man.

On March 15, the victim messaged Ms Meikle and said he didn’t want any more messages or phonecalls from the two, who by that stage had entered into a relationship.

The messages continued until the victim contacted Capella police who then issued Mr Albert and Ms Meikle with a warning, and informed them sending harassing messages and phonecalls was an offence.

The warning seemed to have worked until April 1 when, in the early morning, Mr Albert and Ms Meikle made a number of profane phonecalls to the victim, who contacted police again.

On April 9, both Mr Albert and Ms Meikle went to the Capella police station but declined an interview, and instead were issued with a notice to appear in court.

Sgt Schapcott noted the charge before the court was not the most serious offence, but said it was the disregard of the police warning which gave the case severity.

Solicitor Charles Lumsden, appearing for both defendants, said it was an “unfortunate incident” and his clients were remorseful and embarrassed by the events that took place.

He said the friendship breakdown which sparked the series of eventsbegan when Mr Albert and Ms Meikle disagreed with a lifestyle choice the victim had made, and an equal number of text messages were sent on both parties’ accounts.

“They tell me they deleted the messages because their children have access to that mobile phone and they didn’t want them exposed to those sorts of messages,” he said, referring to his clients.

Mgst Cameron Press told Mr Albert, a chef in Capella, and Ms Meikle, a 36-year-old mother of three, the series of events was not the most serious charge before the court but was concerned about the apparent lack of heed taken by the police warning in March.

He fined the pair $300 each with no conviction recorded.

“That is, in part, because you were warned by police but you persisted in sending messages,” Mgst Press said.

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