A lawyer ordered to pay her neighbor $ 300,000 in damages after filing defamatory claims against A Current Affair is appealing the decision.
Vanessa Hutley was living next to Anthony Cosco in Balmain, Sydney’s inner west, when she publicly accused him of bullying herself and her family and putting their lives at risk.
Judge Stephen Rothman ruled in the Supreme Court in July 2020, saying the “little neighborhood dispute” was “largely due to the defendant’s arrogance and sense of superiority”.
Mr Cosco’s attorney Sue Chrysanthou SC told Justice John Basten, Justice Robert Macfarlan and Justice Richard White on Tuesday that they would need to find the earlier decision “demonstrably wrong” in order to interfere.
Ms. Hutley presented herself to “a million viewers” as the victim of an unprovoked and ongoing campaign of shocking and appalling bullying by Mr. Cosco, which caused her children to be afraid to walk down her street, the defense said.
However, this is “far from the truth” in relation to a conversation in which Ms. Hutley and her partner threaten to “fry you, we are lawyers”.
“Does that sound like people feeling intimidated or bullied,” Ms. Chrysanthou said.
The bitter argument began after Mr Cosco and his family bought the neighboring house in 2013 and carried out construction work including a new fence.
In another incident, the couple pushed down a safety barrier between the two properties three times before reporting to Mr. Cosco about an unfair construction site.
One of Mr. Cosco’s workers, Maurice Cornielje, testified during the trial that Ms. Hutley and sometimes her son hurled abuse at him and his staff almost every morning, calling them stupid and saying how “s ***” they called People were.
Ms. Hutley said her family was at risk when Mr. Cosco sealed a vent that he had previously asked to be removed with expanding foam.
The story goes on
The highly toxic and flammable foam put her family and children in great danger, as an explosion could have happened while they were making a sandwich, Ms. Hutley said.
But Ms. Chrysanthou said Ms. Hutley knew about the incident before she even used the kitchen, the foam was less flammable than wood, and the idea that Mr. Cosco, as some sort of arsonist, could cause an explosion was wrong.
The appeal hearing continues.
Originally published February 1, 2021, 10:24 p.m.