The FBI became involved when a Ballina man made threats to a US woman he would conduct a mass shooting.
The FBI became involved when a Ballina man made threats to a US woman he would conduct a mass shooting. FBI, Wikimedia Commons

FBI intervenes after Ballina man's mass shooting threat

WHEN their international love triangle soured, it's unlikely those involved expected the FBI to step in.

But authorities in the US and Australia both responded when a Far North Coast man threatened to conduct a mass shooting.

The 46-year-old faced Ballina Local Court via video link from Grafton Correctional Centre yesterday.

He had previously pleaded guilty to using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend, breaching a good behaviour bond and failing to report in line with Child Protection Register requirements.

The court heard the defendant was in a "threesome-type" relationship with his partner - who was present in court - and a woman in the US.

Defence lawyer Amy Barker said the relationship took a downward turn when the US-based woman became jealous of the "physical relationship" between the other two.

The woman began undermining the defendant's relationship with his Australian partner and informing those close to him of his prior criminal history.

"He tells me he blocked her on various types of social media," Ms Barker said.

"The victim continues to engage with him."

Ms Barker said it had reached a point where her client felt he "needed to go to some length" to convince the US woman he no longer wanted to be involved with her.

It was then the man told the victim he would carry out a mass shooting before taking his own life.

In the threat, he referenced the tragic murder-suicide that had recently taken place in Margaret River, WA.

He did not follow through on the threat, but the woman alerted the FBI, and Australian authorities were then notified.

The man had been in custody since his arrest on May 22.

Ms Barker spoke of the man's difficult upbringing including "neglect and physical abuse".

She said an abusive relationship with his mother had led him to have difficult connections with women as an adult and suggested her client could be "suitable for parole".

The man had been on a good behaviour bond since February this year, and in March he failed to report under his requirements with the Child Protection Register.

But the court heard he had logged a reminder to report annually in his phone, but this reminder had not worked.

Magistrate Karen Stafford accepted this was a mistake of "neglect rather than intention" and acknowledged his long-standing mental health issues.

But she condemned the threat he made as extremely serious.

"From 9 to 22 May (you) were having an online relationship with (the victim) when you sent her, through Facebook messenger, a number of messages of your intention to commit a mass shooting, murder-suicide," Ms Stafford said.

"Further threats were made to her and obviously (caused) such a concern to her that she then made a report to the FBI in the US which then led to a response in relation to your threats.

"It clearly had a great effect on the victim herself but it had international ramifications and in my view is at the highest (level) of objective seriousness of using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend."

The threats could have carried up to three years behind bars.

For the threat he made, Magistrate Karen Stafford sentenced the man to 12 months' imprisonment backdated to his arrest on May 22.

He is expected to serve six months of that before being released on recognizance as early as November 22.

He was sentenced to two months' imprisonment from the same date for his other two charges.



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