Friendlyjordies producer charged with stalking John Barilaro

·4 min read
<span>Photograph: Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Getty Images

A 21-year-old producer for YouTube comedian Friendlyjordies has been charged with allegedly stalking and intimidating the New South Wales deputy premier, John Barilaro.

Acting on a complaint from Barilaro, detectives from NSW police’s fixated persons unit arrested Kristo Langker at his family home in Dulwich Hill on 4 June and charged him with two offences of “stalk or intimidate intending to cause fear of physical or mental harm”.

The arrest represents a dramatic escalation in tension between Jordan Shanks’s Friendlyjordies YouTube channel and Barilaro, who is suing for defamation over a series of videos accusing him of corruption. Barilaro says the videos are “vile and racist”.

Langker’s lawyers, Xenophon Davis, criticised the arrest and said the use of the fixated persons unit – set up to tackle lone actor extremists three years after the Lindt cafe siege – was “shocking”.

They also alleged Langker’s mother was assaulted during the arrest and criticised “utterly extreme” bail conditions prohibiting their client from possessing images or caricatures of Barilaro, or commenting on his “personal appearance or behaviour”.

The criminal allegations relate to two encounters Langker had with Barilaro.

The first allegedly occurred at a Macquarie University politics in the pub event, where the deputy premier was speaking.

Police said Shanks, dressed as the video game character Luigi, approached Barilaro and introduced Langker as his lawyer, shouting, “Why are you suing us, why are you suing us?”

Shanks eventually complied with requests to leave, police said, but Langker remained, allegedly “tussling with several persons in an attempt to get closer to the Hon Mr Barilaro”.

He was repeating “why are you trying to sue us, John, why are you trying to sue us”, according to court documents.

Barilaro later complained to the police.

The second incident is alleged to have occurred just hours before Langker’s arrest.

Police said Barilaro was returning to his car after the funeral of rugby league immortal Bob Fulton in Sydney when Langker approached him and began asking: “Deputy premier, why are you suing my boss?”

Barilaro got into his car as Langker allegedly continued to film and ask questions. Barilaro was then driven away.

The police version is strongly contested by Langker’s lawyers, who said video of the incident “does not appear to accord with the police facts”.

They said their vision showed Langker was not following Barilaro for 200m, as alleged, and did not say “Deputy premier, why are you suing my boss?” or call him “corrupt”.

Police said Langker’s actions constituted harassment of Barilaro.

They have taken out an apprehended violence order on behalf of the deputy premier.

“The behaviour of the accused, friendly jordies and the public reach of the friendly jordies media platform has caused the victim to be constantly anxious and in fear of his and his families [sic],” police said in a statement of facts.

“Due to the public reach and offensive nature of the friendly jordies media platform, the victim in his public position is harassed by the followers of Friendly Jordies.”

Xenophon Davis partner Mark Davis said he believed a warrant had also been issued for Shanks and he “may be in danger of imminent arrest”.

Davis condemned police actions during the arrest, saying officers pushed Langker’s mother and injured his girlfriend, leaving them “injured and traumatised”.

Footage of arrest, captured by Langker’s family, appears to show the 21-year-old attempting to pass his mobile to his mother as police prepared to lead him away from the home.

There is a commotion, the vision is obscured, and screams of “Oh my God” and “Jesus Christ” can be heard, before a police officer says: “They’re giving away evidence and trying to run away with it. Don’t run off with evidence, OK?”

A woman’s voice is then heard saying: “You hurt a 51-year-old woman. You knocked me over.”

The police officer says he “tripped over”, prompting the woman to respond: “No you didn’t. You pushed me down. You assaulted me. You assaulted me.”

The officer says: “No I didn’t. We told you to hand over the phone, you handed it to her. I tripped over you, that’s what happened.”

It is believed Langker’s mother will make a complaint about the incident.

Davis said the timing of the arrest, so soon after defamation proceedings were commenced, was alarming.

The Guardian approached Barilaro’s office and NSW police for comment on Sunday night.

NSW police confirmed it had arrested a 21-year-old man on 4 June at Dulwich Hill.

“[He] was taken to Newtown police station and charged with stalking,” a spokeswoman said.

“Police will allege the offences occurred at Macquarie University on Monday the 19th of April and Sydney on Friday the 4th of June. He was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Newtown local court on the 24th of June.”

Police did not comment on the allegation of assault.

Barilaro’s office did not respond.

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