Suspected Lismore child predator loses defamation case

A SUSPECTED child predator, who was banned from the Lismore PCYC for allegedly trying to take part in an underage girl's gymnastics class, has failed in his bid to sue the NSW Police Force for defamation.

Benjamin Giovannetti was stripped of his gym membership at the club after police checks revealed he was flagged for a series of alleged incidents which suggested he may have been trying to "infiltrate" youth events in the Lismore region.

The NSW Supreme Court heard police were concerned that he may be "mentally challenged", the word "pedophile" was used along with the suggestion he "stalks female children/adolescents" and that his behaviour around youth events should be monitored.

There was also a warning that he was argumentative and had "a strong dislike for police".

Records on the database described Mr Giovannetti as "being infatuated by a young woman" who was a neighbour in 2008.

A complaint was made by a 14-year-old girl at local music event, Crankfest who alleged Mr Giovannetti had rubbed her thigh, asked for her number and called her friends "sluts".

In the same year an off-duty police officer noted that Mr Giovannetti was driving slowly past a Casino High School and was "very obviously ogling" students.

The police checks followed an incident in September 2010 after Mr Giovannetti had signed up as a member at the PCYC.

A female worker told police she had become concerned when she noticed Mr Giovannetti walking up the stairs to watch a girl's gymnastics class.

She said she had told him the class was only for children under 16 and their parents but that he became agitated and said he wanted to join in.

After reading through the police database, a senior female Lismore police officer decided to terminate Mr Giovannetti's membership.

When Mr Giovannetti was told, he allegedly called the female officer a "fat un-Australian old bitch" and said he hated police as they were part of a "Satanic Zionist Communist conspiracy".

Mr Giovannetti claimed the police had defamed him by labelling him an "extreme risk" to children.

He rejected the bulk of claims listed on the police database and defended his actions at Crankfest by saying he had believed the complainant was 18.

Asked in court if he "did anything" to the girl, Mr Giovannetti replied "no there were just too many people in the room".

Justice Simpson found that while she didn't accept Mr Giovannetti's version of events, she also couldn't accept that the incidents had occurred as described on the police database.

She accepted the state defence that the allegations were trivial, dismissed the claim and ordered Mr Giovannetti to pay the court's costs.


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