A Victorian magistrate has dismissed a perjury charge against former AFL player Nick Stevens over allegations he lied in court about a woman with whom he exchanged raunchy text messages.
The former Carlton player, 38, was charged with giving false evidence to Ringwood Magistrates Court in December 2014, when he stated he did not know a woman by the name of Samantha Nash.
Magistrate Ross Maxted today said the charge did not comply with the law.
“This charge is defective and the charge will be marked as dismissed,” he told Melbourne Magistrates Court.
Victoria Police has been ordered to pay Stevens’ legal costs.
Stevens did not say anything as he left court with barrister Sean Cash.
At the start of his pre-trial committal hearing on Wednesday, the court was told Stevens and Ms Nash exchanged more than 600 text messages and videos of a sexual nature after meeting at a football event in 2012.
Stevens also made a lewd video of himself with a picture of Ms Nash.
She later told police she decided to forward the texts to Stevens’ then partner so she knew “what Stevens was doing behind her back”.
Mr Maxted said there did not seem to be a dispute about what happened.
“Most of the facts are pretty uncontroversial, other than knowledge of Ms Nash,” he said.
“There’s a Facebook print-out, there’s text messages, there’s a video message.”
But Mr Maxted said he was “struggling” to understand how they had demonstrated Stevens “wilfully and corruptly gave false evidence when he stated that he did not know Samantha Nash”.
The magistrate said the charge against Stevens appeared to be “improperly framed”.
But prosecutor Penny Thorp said the allegation Stevens “knowingly” gave false evidence included the “wilful” and “corrupt” elements of the offence before the court.
“The word ‘knowing’ encapsulates the elements ‘wilful’ and ‘corruptly’,” she said.
Mr Maxted’s criticisms of the Crown case prompted the defence to ask the court to throw out the charge due to “deficiency in the allegations of the charge before the court”.
In dismissing the charge, the magistrate said the way prosecutors had run the case had put Stevens at a “material disadvantage”.
Mr Maxted said he had given the prosecution a chance to amend the charge, but they only changed the wording, and not the legal elements.
Mr Cash had earlier objected to the charge being amended in the middle of a committal hearing, saying it amounted to “a changing of the goal post”.
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