A man was charged with intimidating a witness on social media.Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily
A man was charged with intimidating a witness on social media.Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily

Man, 41, threatens witness in court case on social media

IN A bid to intimidate a witness in a legal proceeding against his friend, Michael John Urch took to Facebook to intimidate the complainant, and "give him a hard time".

Crown prosecutor Farook Anoozer told the Dalby District Court that on August 18 last year, Urch, 31, got a hold of three witness statements relating to an upcoming legal proceeding involving a friend of his, and posted them on Facebook alongside "derogatory" and "threatening" comments.

Mr Anoozer said the witness felt "intimidated and frightened" so he reported the offence to police, who later arrested Urchh.

Mr Anoozer told the court the situation had several aggravating factors given Urch was a "mature man" and had a "concerning" criminal history with several property and violence offences.

Defence lawyer Frank Martin told the court his Chinchilla-born client had been instructed by the complainant that he was not going to be making a statement against his friend, and then went on to make a witness statement.

Feeling "betrayed" by the act, Urch took to Facebook, posting images of the statement and two others in the hopes that the complainant would "get a hard time".

There was no intention to cause physical harm to any of the witnesses, Mr Martin reassured the court.

Urch served 60 days in prison from August 20 to October 18 last year.

Judge Dennis Lynch told Urch he was old enough to not need a lecture from him for his actions, but warned him against offending again.

Judge Lynch said the situation was mitigated by the fact that it did not impact the legal proceedings and the witness was still able to testify.

Urch pleaded guilty to intimidation of a witness.

He was sentenced to six months imprisonment, with the 60 days of pre-sentence custody declared as time served.

The sentence was suspended for an operational period of 18 months, and Urch was warned that if offended again in the next 18 months he would have to serve the remaining four months.