A Queensland couple’s battle to receive justice after they were driven from their home by homophobic neighbours is finally over after six years.
Tim Wilson and Shane McCollum moved to Logan Central in 2005 but a dispute with neighbour Jean Lawson over her barking dogs soon escalated, with her son Paul Lawson also becoming involved.
In addition to calling the couple homophobic slurs, the Lawsons made false complaints to police which saw Wilson charged with common assault and wilful damage and AVOs taken out against him — all of which were later thrown out in court.
In a landmark victory in 2008 the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Tribunal found that the Lawsons had publicly vilified and harassed Wilson and McCollum and awarded them costs and compensation.
Jean Lawson exhausted all appeals despite lawyers and judges telling her she was out of time to appeal. Wilson sold his car, scooter, and shares and mortgaged his house to fund the legal battle.
The Lawsons had already paid the couple’s damages of $23,500. Paul Lawson’s solicitors have now told the couple that money to go towards their legal bills has been placed in a trust account to be transferred to them.
The Star Observer understands the amount is close to $70,000.
Wilson said he felt sorry for Paul Lawson despite the fact he is still to face court for allegedly making threatening phone calls to Wilson since his mother lost her final appeal before the Supreme Court in 2009 – something Wilson said had led him to change his phone number twice in three years.
“When you lose an appeal you have to pay your costs and the other party’s, so this has cost him more than what we’ve received,” Wilson said.
“He’s lost his business and his father’s home — it’s very sad. I hope he would just follow the law and learn his lesson.”
Wilson said he would now retire some of the debt he had accumulated.
“I’ve paid back my parents and my nan some money,” Wilson said.
“Good people came out to help us including the gay media — just by listening to our story and putting the message out there that you can’t be a bully and you can’t target someone because they’re different in your eyes.”