Rossiter bid for violence order fails

FORMER Orange councillor Fiona Rossiter has lost her battle to take out a personal apprehended violence order (AVO) against Orange Ratepayers Association members Brian Wood and Cyril Smith.

But the District Court’s decision to throw out her appeal in Bathurst yesterday will not stop Mrs Rossiter’s “pursuit to ensure women in politics are protected”, according to her solicitor David King-Christopher.

Mrs Rossiter appealed against Magistrate Michael Allen’s August decision not to issue a personal AVO against the two men.

But yesterday, District Court Judge Andrew Colefax found there was an insignificant level of intimidation to warrant the order, according to the solicitor representing Mr Wood and Mr Smith, Michael Madden.

“The judge agreed with Magistrate Allen that there was nothing in any allegation substantial enough to grant the AVO,” he said.

“He didn’t recognise that the intimidation she felt was very significant. I believe the decision was even harsher [than the original verdict].”

Mrs Rossiter could not be reached for comment about the decision, but Mr King-Christopher released a statement.

“The District Court’s decision today [Friday], the previous 12 months of seeking support from Orange Police and the criminal justice system for protection against members of the Orange community who have subjected her to special attention as a local councillor elevates Fiona to a position where she can now say to female politicians from an  informed position that the rough and tumble of life in politics is greater for women than men,” he said.

Mr Madden said the decision proved there had to be  significant and substantial intimidation and fear for a personal AVO.

“While people might feel these things or have gripes against people, which in this case were political ... the courts aren’t going to be pulled into that,” he said.

Mr King-Christopher said it seemed the threshold test for an AVO was higher if the threat and/or intimidation occurred in the political context. 

“It is not simply a matter of proving genuine fear and distress,” he said.

Mr Wood said he was happy that he and Mr Smith had won their case, but levelled criticism at the “unfair” system, which had forced the men into defending the personal AVO in court after Mrs Rossiter’s attempts to have police issue an AVO failed.

Judge Colefax did not award costs to either party.

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