Mum Hunts Alleged Stabber on Facebook

Matthew Killoran | 06:31am October 24, 2012 | Gold Coast Bulletin | Gold Coast News

A FRUSTRATED mother used Facebook to track down information on the teenager who allegedly stabbed her son in the side.

Experts said it was part of an increasing trend of social networking influencing crime fighting and the courts.

Arundel resident Shane Michael Wills, 19, is charged with stabbing a 15-year-old with a 7cm kitchen knife at a party at the Oxenford community hall on September 15.

Wills, who is out on bail, has not entered a plea and the case in Southport Magistrates Court was yesterday adjourned until January.

Court documents showed the victim’s mother used the social network to seek out witnesses.

She said she had never used Facebook before, but asked a friend of her son to post a plea for witnesses to come forward.

“No one wanted to talk. They weren’t helping police so I asked for help,” she said. “It was a party. Someone was always going to know someone.

“It’s a sign of the times. Whether you’re using it for marketing, business or to put someone away. It can be used for a greater purpose.”

Potts Lawyers solicitor Mark Williams, representing Wills, said he would question if evidence gained from Facebook would be admissible.

“The court has to determine if it’s relevant and fair,” he said.

“It’s a fairly new media and fairly new area of law and there aren’t too many cases where precedent has been set using Facebook for identification.”

But Mr Williams said courts had to understand and embrace the new technology.

“Although law and courts have been around a long time, they must move with society and embrace the new technology,” he said.

Social media expert and Griffith University Professor Brady Robards said police were increasingly turning to the internet to find evidence.

“It’s a good way for individuals or law enforcement agencies to find people to provide witness reports or to get more information about a case,” he said.

“It’s augmenting traditional forms of media like advertising or Crimestoppers.”

But Professor Robards said it was possible for comments made on social networking sites to put court cases in danger.

“It comes down to what’s public and what’s private,” he said.