One of the Ballarat tradies charged under the Brodie's Law workplace bullying legislation is facing nine fresh allegations, including for multiple types of assault.
Aaron Devereux has now been charged with 14 offences, including stalking, recklessly causing serious injury, and unlawful assault, as well as the new charges for different assaults.
Devereux appeared in the Ballarat Magistrates' Court for a special mention on February 12, 2024, alongside co-accused Benjamin Foy, who is charged with seven offences.
A police prosecutor told the court the new charges had arisen after videos on Devereux's phone were analysed by investigators.
"The bulk of the [stalking] charges were based on video taken from Mr Devereux's phone, and [these] form the basis for the more substantive charges of common law assaults," they said.
Defence counsel for Devereux argued for the fresh charges, which were filed on February 5, 2024, to be dropped, as they had been laid too close to the start of a contested hearing.
Devereux and Foy were set to face a three-day hearing in relation to the workplace bullying charges starting on April 29, 2024.
As mentioned at a previous hearing, it's alleged the pair subjected a teenage apprentice to prolonged and derogatory bullying while employed at Celsius Heating and Cooling between 2022 and 2023.
During this time, Devereux and Foy allegedly mocked the teenager's dead father, spat and tipped paint on him, cut his hair, and pressured him to put his head in a noose.
Under Brodie's Law, which commenced in June 2011, serious bullying offences can be punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
The legislation was introduced after the suicide of 19-year-old Brodie Panlock, who was subjected to relentless bullying by colleagues at Cafe Vamp in Hawthorn in 2006.
On Monday, Devereux's lawyer said the seriousness of the fresh charges meant they would have to completely revisit their defence arguments.
We have to look at a whole new landscape and elements my client is facing now and reconsider the case 12 weeks out from a contested hearing.- Lawyer for Aaron Devereux
"We have to look at a whole new landscape and elements my client is facing now and reconsider the case 12 weeks out from a contested hearing," they said.
"Importantly we've missed contest mention for these charges, missed the opportunity to give advice [to Devereux] prior to contest mention, and we haven't been able to consider whether or not to contest the charges until we were served with them very recently."
Magistrate Michelle Hodgson said it was in the "overriding" interest of justice to have serious matters, such as those Devereux is facing, to be prosecuted.
As there are two-and-a-half months before the contested hearing, Ms Hodgson said there should be enough time for defence to address the new charges.
In response to the magistrate's decision, Devereux's lawyer indicated they may seek a sentence indication rather than taking the matter to a contested hearing.
Devereux's matter was adjourned to February 28 for a contest mention, while Foy will return to court on April 29.
Affected by this story? There is help available.
You can phone the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault, in Sebastopol, on 5320 3933, or free-call the crisis care line 24 hours on 1800 806 292.
Or phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Blue Knot Foundation on 1300 657 380, or Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277.