Ballarat Facebook feud ends in court

A magistrate has lashed out at Facebook  after  a man fired a loaded handgun during a  showdown between two groups feuding over comments made on the social media site.

Magistrate Peter Couzens told Ballarat Magistrates Court that Facebook was a medium that fuelled conflict.

“This court daily deals with cases involving this wretched form of media called Facebook,” he said.

“It may be that Facebook provides for some positive communications ... but it has clearly got extraordinarily negative aspects to it and this is one of them.”

Grant Nathan Parker, 41, his wife and a teenage friend went to “sort out” their differences with the other party in a car park at the Wendouree Sports and Events Centre during the early hours of January 8.

Parker later told police he wasn’t sure if he’d informed his wife he was carrying a .32 calibre semi-automatic pistol with five rounds of ammunition at the time.

The court heard that with their car apparently blocked inside the car park by opposing vehicles, and upon being approached by three males, Parker got out of the driver’s seat, said “back off or I’ll shoot you” and fired a shot into the air.

Then he got back in the car and crashed into the vehicle blocking his way before driving off.

Parker and his wife were together again when he appeared in court yesterday, where he pleaded guilty to charges including using a loaded firearm and threatening to inflict serious injury.

Mr Couzens said the events leading up to the altercation were “just pathetic” and could be neither understood nor justified.

“The potential for catastrophe in this series of events is so obvious,” he said.

“You put yourself and others in a position where there was going to be trouble.

“What would have happened (with the loaded gun) if one of them had attacked you?”

Police prosecutor Acting Sergeant Ivan Blomeley said police raided Parker’s Invermay property hours after the dispute occurred and located the pistol in a wardrobe along with another firearm in the kitchen pantry. Defence lawyer Raoul Stransky acknowledged his client had over-reacted.

“This was a venture that got completely out of hand,” he said.

Parker was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for two years and fined $2500.