Disabled NSW man's conviction set aside

By Rebekah Ison

An intellectually disabled man jailed under NSW anti-consorting laws designed to target bikie gangs has had his conviction set aside.

Charlie Maxwell Forster, who can't read or write, originally pleaded guilty to habitual consorting with convicted offenders and was sentenced to at least nine months jail in 2012.

But he later reversed his plea, only for a magistrate to convict him in 2015 and reinstate the same penalty.

"I am of the view that Mr Forster was wrongly convicted and that the conviction must be set aside," Supreme Court Justice Lucy McCallum said in a written judgement published on Friday.

Mr Forster's conviction was based on three separate conversations he had with men he knew in Inverell's main street, and a fourth occasion when he was out "havin' a drink" with a group, including the same men.

His legal team submitted the magistrate erred in finding each of the street encounters amounted to consorting.

Justice McCallum agreed saying the evidence suggested the street conversations were nothing more than "chance encounters".

"It can, in my respectful opinion, be concluded that the magistrate either misconstrued the section or made findings that were not open on the evidence," she said.

Forster was warned by police that he could be committing consorting offences and replied "what's consorting", Ms Mcallum said.

He spent 11 months behind bars after his original sentence.