In the recent decision of Petersen v Ipswich City
Council  QDC 7, Bradley DCJ found that there was no case
to answer and set aside the conviction of the Appellant, who was
alleged to have enabled her election signs to be placed on an
Ipswich City Council local government area without the necessary
An appeal was brought before the District Court by Patricia
Petersen who had been convicted of three charges relating to the
placement of election signage within an Ipswich City Council local
government area without a licence, in contravention of section 5 of
Ipswich City Council Local Law No. 3 (Commercial Licensing)
2013. At the time, the Appellant was leader of the Australian
Independents and a candidate for Senate in the 2013 Commonwealth
elections. Although it was determined that the Appellant had not
placed the signs herself, the matter before the Court was whether,
per section 7 Criminal Code (QLD), it could be shown she
had "enabled" the illegal placing of the
In the first instance, the Magistrate found that such enabling
was brought about by the authorisation of the sign, evidenced in
writing on each sign which stated "Authorised P
Petersen..." and by a quote published by The
Queensland Times where the Appellant was quoted as saying
"I am not paying a cent and I am going to continue to put
my signs up". The Appellant denied having authorised the
production and placement of the signage.
The appeal was brought on the three grounds, being that the
Magistrate had erred in; convicting the appellant where evidence of
the state of mind of the appellant had not been adduced; finding
that there was a case to answer at the close of the prosecution
case; and finding there was sufficient evidence to prove the
elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt.
Bradley DCJ held that in order to establish the case against the
Appellant the Ipswich City Council had to "adduce either
direct evidence, or evidence from which an inference could be
drawn, that the appellant did an act ... with the purpose of
enabling another to place the signs in the particular locations ...
with the intention of helping that person to commit the
offence...and that when she did the act...the appellant knew that
it was intended that the signs be so placed."
His Honour held that the magistrate erred in finding that there
was a case to answer as the Ipswich City Council had failed to
produce evidence that the appellant had authorised the production
or placement of the signage, noting that the authorisation printed
on the sign was insufficient. Furthermore, it was held that there
was a distinct lack of evidence from which to adduce the
appellant's intention to help another commit the offence or
that she had knowledge that the signs were to be placed at all.
His Honour dismissed the assertion that the Appellant's
alleged statement to the Queensland Times was indicative of the
Appellant's intention as it could not be considered an
admission in relation to the particular charges brought, or in
relation to the particular placement of the signs in question.
Ultimately, Bradley DCJ held that the Appellant did not have a
case to answer and set aside the convictions, penalties and costs
imposed by the Magistrates Court.
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