Mob justice

I read on the 2GB website that:

A campaign by Ray Hadley and his listeners to rid Carlingford Court of a tenant, convicted of indecently assaulting an employee, has been successful.

This week EMRAN AHMED, the owner of Seafood Lovers at Carlingford Court was placed on a good behavior bond after he fondled a teenage staff member’s breasts and bottom while at work.

GPT Property Management Pty Ltd, as manager of Carlingford Court, has issued a letter to the tenants of Seafood Lovers at Carlingford Court, advising them of their intention to terminate their lease and retake possession of the premises.

I found this because yesterday I came across a report of the case which Mr Ahmed and his wife have brought in the Supreme Court to try to stop their lease being terminated.

Here is a little more background from the judgment of Justice Barrett:

5 On 25 July 2007, the male plaintiff was convicted of an offence against s.61N(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 described as “aggravated indecent assault” against a seventeen year old girl who was employed at the shop and who was under his authority. On 7 November 2007, he was sentenced to imprisonment for twelve months, which sentence was suspended upon his entering into a bond to be of good behaviour for twelve months. The offence took place between 6.30pm and 7pm on 27 January 2007 at the shop premises. The male plaintiff has initiated an appeal against both conviction and sentence.
6 On 28 September 2007, the plaintiffs received a letter purporting to invoke certain provisions of the lease. The letter was as follows:

“Dear Mr Emran Ahmed and Mrs Kim Ahmed
Re: Notice of Breach of Covenant
Notice to Lessee to Remedy Breach

Lease: from GPT Funds Management Limited (‘the Lessor’) to Emran Ahmed and Kim Ahmed (‘the Lessee’)
Trading As: Seafood Lovers
Premises: Shop 126 Level 1, Carlingford Court
We refer to the Lease of the Premises and to the following covenant by the Lessee contained in the Lease:
Clause 21.1 (Your behaviour)
The conduct the subject of Mr Ahmed’s recent conviction constitutes a breach of clause 21.1 as Mr Ahmed engaged in conduct which was dangerous, annoying, offensive or illegal or which interfered with other people in the centre.
The Lessor hereby gives the Lessee notice pursuant to clause 50 of the Lease.
The Lessor requires the Lessee to remedy the breach within a reasonable time and to respond to this notice within fourteen (14) days to advise the Lessor of how the Lessee proposes to remedy the breach.
If the breach is not remedied within a reasonable period, the Lessor will take such action as may be legally available to it. If this is necessary, the legal costs associated with any action taken may be borne by the Lessee. The Lessor reserves its rights in relation to other breaches of the Lease.
Please contact Lucinda Cowdroy on 8239 3618 for any enquiries.
Yours faithfully
Nita Malhotra
Legal Counsel”

Clause 21.1 of the lease provided that ““You must not do anything that is, or may be, dangerous, annoying, offensive or illegal or that may interfere with other tenants or people in the centre or adjacent buildings.” Such terms are reasonably commonplace in leases – they can be relied upon to evict tenants who are running a brothel, or a speed-manufacturing plant. As the letter suggests, other terms in the lease empower the landlord to serve a notice on a tenant to “remedy the breach” failing which the landlord can bring the lease to an end. But, if the breach consists of an act of indecent assault which happened 6 months ago, how can you remedy it?

 Mr Ahmed and his wife have quite a good argument that, where the breach is a one-off act such as this which cannot be remedied, this notice procedure is not applicable, and a landlord can only terminate the lease if the breach by Mr Ahmed was what is called a “repudiatory” breach, that is, a breach of a very important condition or one which by its nature indicated that he and his wife did not intend to observe the conditions of the lease in the future. 

The general policy of the law in relation to leases is to protect tenants from losing their leases on the basis of technical breaches of the lease.  This is called “relief against forfeiture.”  This is because a tenant’s lease is a kind of property in which a tenant may have made a substantial investment, which the landlord should not be able to take away (which will often confer an undeserved benefit on the landlord) on technical grounds.  For example, in the case of Mr and Mrs Ahmed’s case, termination of their lease would lead to the loss to them of the entire value of their business, which they may have built up over a number of years and also paid a substantial amount of money for.

As Justice Barrett pointed out, clause 21.1:

“is not, in terms, confined to activities on the premises, so that a tenant who engaged in parachute jumping or some other dangerous pastime in his or her spare time might, on a strict reading, breach the provision. Even if it the provision is to be construed as confined to conduct on the premises, it would cover, for example, a tenant who, while sitting alone in the premises, defaced a $10 note or made an intimidating telephone call or engaged in a game of Russian roulette with a partially loaded revolver. The first two acts would be illegal and the third would be, at the least, dangerous.”

The problem for the landlord and for other tenants in the shopping centre, however, was that Ray Hadley’s campaign was apparently having an effect on the shopping centre as a whole and in particular on the neighbouring shops.  As Justice Barrett recounted in his judgment:

the defendant [that is, the landlord] has received a large number of complaints from members of the public about the male plaintiff’s continued presence at the shopping centre. There have also been complaints from people working in other shops within the centre. People have expressed deep concern that a person they describe as a “child molester” or “sexual predator” is at the centre, apparently with the sanction of the defendant.  

18 Some people have said that they will not shop at the centre while the male plaintiff remains there. Others have said they will boycott the centre. There was a warning that protesters would visit the site. Employees of the plaintiffs’ seafood business have received offensive phone calls. The police have had to go to the centre on several occasions. Nearby shop proprietors have said that their trade is being affected. They have asked who will compensate them. It appears that many people have become aware of the male plaintiff and his conviction and sentence from comments made on radio station 2GB. 

There were also claims that numbers attending the centre had fallen. A causal link for such claims is almost impossible to prove.  The path of least resistance was an easier one for the landlord to take.  This involved entirely sacrificing the interests of its tenants, the Ahmeds, but shopping centre landlords are not particularly known for their solicitude for individual tenants at the best of times.

The Ahmeds got an injunction preventing the landlord from terminating their lease, but only on giving an undertaking that they would endeavour to sell their business and that Mr Ahmed would not set foot in the shopping centre at all.  Whilst it was said that this would enable the Ahmeds to realise their asset in an orderly way, it is obvious that a forced sale in such circumstances is likely to be under pretty disadvantageous terms.

As Justice Barrett said, Mr Ahmed’s conduct was “serious and repugnant,” but you can draw your own conclusion from the sentence which Mr Ahmed received as to how serious it was in the scale of such offences or in comparision to other offences.  The push by Mr Hadley to drive Mr Ahmed and his wife out of the shopping centre and deprive them of both their livelihood and their investment in the business seems a disproportionate response to what occurred.  It unfairly punishes Mr Ahmed’s wife and family.

Mr Hadley doubtless wins ratings and makes money by whipping up the cries of “child molester” and “sexual predator.”   Leading such mob “justice” strikes me as a pretty miserable way to make a living. 

5 Responses to “Mob justice”

  1. Grubby | Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] 6 years ago, in my post, Mob Justice I wrote about Ray Hadley’s hounding of Mr and Mrs Ahmed, proprietors of a fish-and-chip shop […]

  2. Aussie Says:

    “Mr Hadley doubtless wins ratings and makes money by whipping up the cries of “child molester” and “sexual predator.” Leading such mob “justice” strikes me as a pretty miserable way to make a living.”

    How about going to bat / defending / carrying water for Child Molesters and Sexual Predators ?

    The “Progressives” are yet to realise, in Law, their much sought after “human right” of Sexual contact between adults and children as been a right of the child.

    No wonder Sexual assault and Paedophilia are punished with two strokes of a wet lettuce 95 % of the time.

    • marcellous Says:

      The “Progressives” are yet to realise, in Law, their much sought after “human right” of Sexual contact between adults and children as been a right of the child.

      – What the *** does that have to do with this post and in particular the conduct of Mr Hadley who makes money and indeed a pretty good livelihood picking on Mr Ahmed but also Mrs Ahmed in this way?

      No wonder Sexual assault and Paedophilia are punished with two strokes of a wet lettuce 95 % of the time.

      That is a matter of opinion. In my opinion, neither is punished with the proverbial two strokes these days. Nor would I really call Mr Ahmed’s offence pedophilia. I don’t think Mr Ahmed was ever saying that to do what he was accused of was OK or something to be fought for or a right to be sought – he said he didn’t do it.

      • aussienewsandviews Says:

        “…………. he said he didn’t do it.”

        So you believe the child lied and he was fooled into convicting him ?

        My belief is irrelevant. My point is that nobody was advocating the “human right of sexual contact between adults and children” that you launch into in your first comment.

        ” What the *** does that have to do with this post and in particular the conduct of Mr Hadley who makes money and indeed a pretty good livelihood picking on Mr Ahmed but also Mrs Ahmed in this way?”

        Are you serious, do you really believe that Hadley earns a living via his condemnation of convicted Paedophile Mr Ahmed, and his Loyal and supporting Wife. Well, yes, actually. It may only be part of what he does, but it is part of what he does for which he is handsomely paid.
        May I ask if you are a school Teacher?
        No, you may not. I can see you are just warming up for more trolldom, so off with you now, “Aussienewsandviews.”

  3. aussienewsandviews Says:

    should read ” So you believe the child lied and the Court was fooled into convicting him ?

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