A Shoalhaven developer has successfully appealed his conviction and $16,000 fine for secretly recording Shoalhaven City Councillor Greg Watson and posting it on Facebook.
George Anastasopoulos, 50, of Vincentia also successfully appealed his sentence for using a false document to influence exercise of public duty in Sydney Downing Centre District Court on Tuesday, August 13.
Anastasopoulos had been found guilty by Nowra Local Court Magistrate Gabriel Fleming in July last year of using a device to record a conversation and publishing a conversation obtained with surveillance devices, and was fined $16,000.
He had pleaded guilty to using a false document to influence the exercise of public duty and had been placed on an intensive correction order, where instead of a jail sentence he could serve his sentence in the community, but appealed that and had it changed to a community correction order, in other words a good behaviour bond.
In Sydney Downing Centre District Court on Tuesday, Judge Michael Williams overturned both decisions, removing the $16,000 fine, and placed Anastasopoulos on a 18-month community correction order from August 13, 2019 during which time he must perform 300 hours of community service.
He had been convicted of meeting with Shoalhaven councillor Greg Watson between July 11 and July 31, 2016, and using a listening device to record a private conversation with Cr Watson at his Woollamia home.
Court papers said Cr Watson did not consent to or have knowledge the recording was being made.
The recording, in the form of a video on a mobile phone, showed Cr Watson and Anastasopoulos discussing a proposed development for the Club Jervis Bay site at Huskisson.
The video later appeared on Facebook, which court papers said was without Cr Watson's permission or knowledge.
The charge of using a false document to influence exercise of public duty was an invoice from Select Print Solution for $1900, which Anastasopoulos presented, knowing it to be false, but for a person to accept it as genuine, to influence the exercise of public duty, an investigation by the NSW Electoral Commission.
The matter was around the alleged printing of election flyers, which were distributed in the Shoalhaven, attacking Mr Watson, the former mayor, and long-time councillor in a lead-up to the September 2016 Shoalhaven Local Government election.
Anastasopoulos had pleaded guilty to being a third-party campaigner and making a payment during a local government period and was fined $3000 and ordered to pay court costs of $15,000 by Magistrate Vivien Swain in Sydney Downing Centre Court last August.
A further charge of third-party campaigner and making a payment during a local government period against Anastasopoulos was withdrawn and dismissed at the time.
Read more: Crime/Court