Charity founder admits stalking ex-staffer

·3-min read

A Brisbane charity founder published a domestic violence victim's photo, phone number and directions to her home in sexual services adverts after she resigned from his organisation.

Adam Benjamin Cocks first helped the woman - who had moved to Australia with her daughter - by giving her casual employment at his charity Liberty Enterprises.

But she resigned in April 2019 after only a few weeks following a dispute over wages and leave entitlements, a Brisbane court heard on Wednesday.

The now 39-year-old first sent messages "berating her" about interactions with customers and threatening to report her to "authorities" for things she had allegedly done wrong.

But he didn't stop there.

On June 7 the 26-year-old woman received phone calls and text messages from people responding to an advertisement Cocks had posted online.

It contained "explicit content offering sexual services for money" and included a photograph she had provided while employed, her age and mobile number.

One person told her the advert owner had provided her home address.

"This naturally caused the victim to be frightened, fearing for her safety and that of her young daughter," Brisbane District Court Judge Michael Rackemann said in sentencing Cocks.

The advert was removed after two days, but a similar one - including directions to her home - posted on June 27 led to her receiving 63 text messages and a large number of calls from strangers.

Suspecting Cocks was responsible she emailed asking him to stop posting them.

"Your response did not address her allegations, but rather accused her of harassing you and asked her to desist," Judge Rackemann told Cocks in handing down his sentence.

The court heard the woman complained both times to police, with Cocks' "unsophisticated" offending making it easy for him to be identified as the person who posted the advert.

Judge Rackemann said Cocks' unlawful stalking consisted of only a few actions, but they were "obviously calculated to cause numerous unwanted interactions" between the woman and those responding to the advert.

He also knew his former employee was "somewhat vulnerable" having been a victim of past domestic abuse.

The woman felt overwhelmed and extremely violated by the texts, calls and voice messages she received from strangers wanting sexual acts from her, the court heard.

"She also speaks of the continual distress she felt at any time that she saw an unknown car or person outside her residence particularly at night," Judge Rackemann said after reading her victim impact statement.

"In short ... your conduct invited a danger, stress, fear, violation and embarrassment into the lives of her and her daughter," he added.

The court heard Cocks may have been motivated by resentment, believing the woman was responsible for an investigation into the charity and threats he had received.

But Judge Rackemann said Cocks was "pointing the finger" at his victim for the motivation of the crime.

"That is not very edifying where it is not accompanied by an expression of remorse," he told Cocks.

Sentencing him to 18 months behind bars, Judge Rackemann said the gravity of the offence warranted a sentence of imprisonment.

But the judge granted Cocks immediate parole saying supervision might help him gain insight into his offending.

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