It started with a neighbourhood spat over dogs and unflattering Facebook posts.
Now a Sydney judge has alerted the Police Commissioner to “rising tensions” on Scotland Island in the city’s north and warned the dispute has “escalated out of all proportion”.
In a bid to quell discord on the Pittwater island about 30 kilometres north of Sydney, home to a population of roughly 1000, District Court Judge Judith Gibson suggested the police might be able to use their “skill and expertise to defuse any potential future difficulties”.
Judge Gibson is just one of the city’s judges who has been asked to rule on long-running legal feuds between Nader Mohareb and his neighbours Matthew and Annette Palmer, among others.
Mr Mohareb kicked off defamation proceedings against the Palmers in 2014, after Mr Palmer shared a photo on Facebook of anonymous posters on the island about Mr Mohareb’s King Charles spaniels.
The costly case was settled but has spawned a string of related cases, including one dispute relating to the deletion of an apology on Facebook.
Mr Mohareb has also sought repeatedly to prosecute Mr Palmer himself for alleged perjury under an obscure section of the Crimes Act. /**/
On Tuesday, Judge Gibson said “something must be done” to end the escalating hostilities on the island, accessible only by boat, and questioned whether the police might intervene “to ensure that the residents of Scotland Island can use public facilities such as the roads, car park and ferry without impediment”.
She said she was “greatly concerned” by statements Mr Mohareb had made that he was being publicly vilified and it was “a matter of life and death” for him, whether or not the statements were “fact or fanciful”.
“This litigation is not resolving anything; the situation is simply getting worse,” she said.
“Scotland Island is a small, isolated community of families with children who all have to use the same public facilities for travel and activities outside the home.”
She again refused to give Mr Mohareb permission to prosecute Mr Palmer. And she also rejected his bid to have Mr Palmer referred for contempt of court proceedings over a scuffle in a car park in which Mr Palmer allegedly called Mr Mohareb a “c—” and Mr Mohareb’s glasses were knocked off.
She said the men were “largely equally to blame” for the altercation, which included Mr Mohareb shouting that Mr Palmer was a “criminal”, and said that Mr Palmer was not trying to intimidate Mr Mohareb into dropping an appeal in a related dispute.
Judge Gibson said the case was “difficult” to determine because of the way it was conducted, noting Mr Mohareb’s “loud voice in the course of this application led to complaints from an adjoining court about the noise”.
She said the referral to the police was “for the benefit of the wider community of Scotland Island” and not an endorsement of either party.
A NSW Police spokesperson said: “Police are aware of the judge’s comments and will work with community members on Scotland Island to help resolve any potential conflict.”
Mr Mohareb is also suing Fairfax Media, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald, over a report in May last year.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.