Judge slams attorney general for new law

A COUNTY Court judge, sitting in Ballarat yesterday, slammed the attorney general and commonwealth parliament over a law which he said he had never heard of.

Judge Michael McInerney, hearing the plea of a Ballarat man who used Facebook to “transmit indecent information to a person under the age of 16”, directed the Commonwealth prosecutor to report his comments back to the attorney general. 

Baffled as to why he had only learnt of the law early yesterday, Judge McInerney said it was up to parliament to adequately publicise laws it passed. 

“It needs to go back to the attorney general,” Judge McInerney said.

 “If they’re going to pass this legislation ... then advertise it.

“The average Joe Blow in the community wouldn’t have a clue ... it seems to me that the community should know what they’re breaking.”

The prosecutor told the court Zachary Keating, 21, of Wendouree, began a Facebook ‘friendship’ with a 14-year-old girl on March 14 last year. 

The court heard the pair would use private messages to converse and that between March and May last year Keating sent the girl messages which contained “explicit language”.

It was only when a relative found the messages that police were contacted and Keating eventually charged. 

Keating’s defence barrister said her client was “very immature”, adding that this was the first time he had appeared in court. 

The court heard that at not stage was there ever any evidence of grooming by Keating. 

Judge McInerney said there was “no way” he would jail Keating over the offence. 

Judge McInerney sentenced Keating without conviction under the pretence that he give an undertaking of three years good behaviour.