The finding of the Greek courts â€“ which has been obtained by VEXNEWS â€“ convicts Theoâ€™s accuser (who cannot be named for legal reasons) of defamatory libel and imposes a sentence of two years imprisonment. The court documents show that the sentence is suspended for three years.
THE WEBB OF DECEIT
Theoâ€™s false accuserâ€™s allegations were originally published in The Age newspaper in a front-page story written by an Age journalist later revealed to be a personal friend of the accuser, Carolyn Webb.
Webb is still currently an employee at The Age although she was recently rumoured to have considered taking one of the voluntary redundancies that are so frequently offered there.
Despite the criminal defamation finding, The Age continues to publish the offending false claims of Carolyn Webbâ€™s mate online.
As we will see, the false accuser, The Ageâ€™s source, now denies that any interview occurred between The Age and her. To be fair to Webb, itâ€™s just the latest of the accuserâ€™s many lies.
Little wonder the view of mainstream political parties (non-Greens, non-communist) is that The Ageâ€™s political coverage has not so much lost its way as occupied a place in the smelliest sewer. Its print edition is not expected to last much longer than five years, given the disappearance of its traditional principal source of revenue, classifieds.
The case was brought by Theo Theophanous following the decision of a Magistrate in a committal hearing here that Theoâ€™s accuser had â€œconcoctedâ€ evidence and had attempted to â€œcoerceâ€ witnesses. The Magistrate found there was not even sufficient evidence to allow a trial based on her allegations and was scathing about the whole case.
It was one of many recent blows to the authority of now disgraced Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions Jeremy Rapke, who personally insisted the case be brought despite fundamental problems with it, has of course been recently accused by senior colleagues and the highly-regarded Sunday Herald Sun of maintaining inappropriate relationships with female staff. Interestingly, Rapke has called for the abolition of committal hearings, of the kind where cases like the bogus one against Theophanous can be thrown out.
The decision of the court will now put pressure on Victoria Police and the besieged Office of Public Prosecutions to bring perjury and false statement charges against Theoâ€™s accuser.
A source â€“ familiar with the proceedings â€“ explained to VEXNEWS that the criminal defamation case was heard last week on the 25th of October at 9am in the Sixth Court, comprising three judges, in the â€œLesser Courtâ€ an equivalent to our Magistrates Court.
The Greek system â€“ like most of Europe â€“ is an inquisitorial system rather than the adversarial system in the English speaking world.
The three judges read all the depositions and documents in submitted by the parties and then ask their own questions of the witnesses. The partiesâ€™ lawyers are also then able to cross-examine the witnesses.
The source explained: â€œThe three judges are assisted by a District Attorney who makes a recommendation to the Judges at the conclusion of hearing all the evidence. In this case the District Attorney strongly recommended that [the false accuser] be convicted and sentenced to the maximum sentence of two years jail.â€
Theo and his wife Rita volunteered to be witnesses, with Theo questioned for nearly two hours on the case.
HIDING FROM SCRUTINY
The false accuser chose not to attend and was not obliged to do so under Greek law for this kind of offence. The false accuserâ€™s father, brother and mother attended the hearing. Only her father gave testimony.
The fatherâ€™s testimony was that no interview had occurred between the false accuser and Carolyn Webb. This point was reiterated by the false accuserâ€™s lawyer, a Mr Fousekis, our source revealed.
The court rejected this account due to the evidence of emails addressed to Ms Webb from the false accuser where she lavishly thanked Webb for writing the article â€œas she wanted it written.â€
The judges were highly critical of the failure of the false accuser to appear, VEXNEWS has learned. They noted that the false accuser and her family were provided with Australian-taxpayer funded plane tickets and accommodation to travel to Australia to give testimony against Theo. However, she was unwilling to travel to Athens to appear in a Greek court to explain herself.
The court found that the false accuser had acted maliciously in talking to The Age and making her allegations, our source explains. She spoke to Webb from Greece while there which meant her crime of criminal defamation occurred there.
The court found that the offending Age article dated 15th October was published in Greece by reason of it being accessible by English speakers in Greece and as many as 10,000 Australian expatriates in Greece. This potentially leaves The Ageâ€™s editor Paul Ramadge in a position of being in violation of Greek law, potentially earning him two years in jail too. One colleague suggested this morning â€œHe might prefer that to two more years of being bent over by Rural Press bean-countersâ€¦(who have been imposing draconian cost-cutting on the once-pampered broadsheet newspaper)â€
The three judges held that the allegations made by the false accuser were untrue on the evidence and that there was an intention to procure reward from the false allegations. They accepted that the accuser intended to put public pressure on Victoria Police to lay charges in the case.
The court imposed a two year jail sentence, suspended for three years, which, like here, means that if the woman commits further criminal offences she could be required to serve the full two year term. The woman has appealed her conviction.
Below are the court documents outlining their decision on The Ageâ€™s source, now convicted of criminal defamation and sentenced to two years jail.