AVO to protect Ita Buttrose’s niece

Criminal Law

Police have taken out an AVO to protect Ita Buttrose’s niece Lizzie Buttrose from her boyfriend Scott Fay.


The Daily Telegraph reports that court documents allege that an argument between the pair erupted in the early hours of 5 May over an exchange of text messages exchanged. It is not clear whether this date is erroneous, and that the correct date is something more proximate, such as 5 March 2015. It is possible that the date is 5 May 2014, and the matter has been able to resist publicity until now.

Fay is alleged to have called Buttrose a “f—ing sl—“ and damaged some property in the apartment. Buttrose then hit a panic button inside her apartment, alerting a private security company to call police.

The matter was in at Waverley Local Court recently, and will next be in in April.

The Telegraph’s sources have indicated that Buttrose and Fay have settled their differences, but the AVO is still in force pending final orders.

What happens when a person seeks to have an AVO against their partner withdrawn?

There are two types of AVO: a police AVO, and a private AVO. Any person can take out an AVO against another person if they are in fear of immediate personal violence. The matter gets listed before a Local Court Magistrate, who, once he or she has heard from the person taking out the AVO (the “person in need of protection” or “PINOP), will set the matter down for hearing. If the Magistrate is concerned that the PINOP is in immediate danger, he or she may order an interim AVO, which is a court order giving effect to the AVO until the matter has been finally determined. In private AVO cases, this step is not often taken, as a PINOP’s complaint has not been independently supported by police, and the burden of an unproven interim AVO on a person is considerable, given that breach of it is a criminal offence. At the hearing, the Magistrate will hear the PINOP’s case followed by the defendant’s, and decide on the balance of probabilities whether the PINOP’s case is made out.

The difference with a police AVO is that under s 27 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal) Violence Act 2007, where a police officer forms the opinion that a domestic violence offence has been or is likely to be committed, or has good reason to believe that the PINOP is in danger of immediate unlawful violence, they then must take out an AVO, even if the PINOP says at the time or after that they do not wish the defendant to be subject to an AVO. This mandate exists to protect victims of domestic violence, who retract their complaints for reasons such as they and their partner reconciling. Interim AVOs are almost always ordered by the Court when a police AVO is in for first mention, as the suspicion of police is usually seen as reasonable by magistrates.

What is the likely outcome in this matter?

If Buttrose decides not to proceed with the complaint, the police may decide not to prosecute the AVO further, and withdraw it on the next occasion. Alternatively, the Court may consider after the hearing that Buttrose is not in need of protection. In many cases, the PINOP simply does not turn up to Court, and the police withdraw the AVO. While the Court has power to issue an arrest warrant for the PINOP’s attendance, this is rarely done, unless the Court or police have grave fears for the PINOP’s safety, as it is undesirable to treat alleged victims of domestic violence like a criminal by arresting them and compelling their evidence in court under threat of contempt of court.

Without the participation of the PINOP, where that PINOP is the only eyewitness, this AVO is not likely to result in final orders being made against Fay.

Read more: http://m.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/buttrose-blow-up-itas-niece-lizzie-and-rugby-boyfriend-scott-fay-in-domestic-violence-case/story-fni0cx12-1227262561788

Image credit: Daily Telegraph

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