Brisbane Supreme and District Court.
Brisbane Supreme and District Court. Rae Wilson

Mackay man may have to remove signs from his truck

A MACKAY business director will find out next week whether he will be forced to take down signs on his truck that refer to a former Rockhampton building company director as a "snake".

Former director of Rockhampton's JM Kelly Project Builders, Geoff Murphy, has taken Mackay business owner Michael Barfield to court, claiming signs on Mr Barfield's trucks have defamed him.

The signs that have been displayed on Mr Barfield's truck include claims that Mr Murphy's company owed him $600,000.

Geoff Murphy.
Geoff Murphy. Sharyn O'Neill ROK201113splan2

At a hearing in Brisbane on Thursday, Mr Murphy's barrister John Peden said there were four signs - two that were identical - that had been displayed on the truck and displayed in areas including Rockhampton, Yeppoon and Mackay.

He said one of the signs said sub-contractors were owed money and included the words "destroying lives" and "yet you enjoy a life of luxury".

He said there would be no defamation case if the signs only referred to the company but he said the signs affected Mr Murphy's reputation.

Mr Peden said this included the words on another sign that said "who is the real snake Geoff?".

"He's turning it into a personal attack on Mr Geoff Murphy," Mr Peden said.

But Mr Barfield's barrister Michael de Waard said the reference to "snake" was related to an article Mr Murphy was quoted in where he said he had decided to "cut the head of the snake off" when he decided to go into liquidation following an expensive court case involving a Gold Coast construction project.

Mr de Waard also said it was true, honest opinion from Mr Barfield.

The barrister said Mr Murphy had essentially been quoted saying he had made arrangements to pay everyone when in fact the company had not.

"What has been said there from Mr Murphy is not in fact what's happening and Mr Barfield has decided to call him out on it," Mr de Waard said.

District Court Judge Helen Bowskill is expected to hand down her judgment on Monday afternoon that will determine whether Mr Barfield has to stop displaying his signs.

A trial about the defamation claim may go ahead in November.


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