On May 13, 2016, Leo Carvalho, 71, was arrested when he stood in the driveway of a Mr Fluffy property and refused to move for a truck.
The property was 4 Barrow Place in Lyons, his nearby neighbour.
The truck was to pick up a skip bin full of demolition material. But the neighbours had concerns about how the demolition was being carried out. In particular, Carvalho was worried about the carpet, if it was contaminated and how it was being removed.
Carvalho pleaded not guilty to the sole obstruction charge on June 21, 2016 and fought the allegations during hearings in the ACT Magistrates Court on several days in October and February.
Neighbours were alarmed on April 28 when they saw workers using sledgehammers and crow bars to begin demolishing the property.
Carvalho was also concerned when he watched a video filmed by his son Ben that showed a worker wearing no protective clothing jumping into the skip bin full of material from the house.
He also knew that while neighbours were helping move mirrors from the property in July or August 2015, part of the roof fell down, and he was not aware whether the material was contaminated.
It emerged later the material was tested, and was uncontaminated.
Special Magistrate Dominic Mulligan on Tuesday found Carvalho guilty, and his blockade unreasonable. The magistrate said the man had three reasons for blocking the truck; one, was his concern the carpet could be contaminated. Second was that the contents of the skip bin, namely the carpet, could be used as evidence. And third, was that the carpet needed to be secured elsewhere.
But the magistrate said Carvalho did not know if the carpet was in the skip, that he had been assured the carpet would be rolled and wrapped before being transported and the material that fell from the roof had been tested and found not to be contaminated.
Further, the magistrate said Carvalho’s son Ben had only seen wrapped material put into the skip, and that in the video black plastic could be seen in a way that appeared to be lining the skip.
He said it would be “patently ridiculous to suggest each time they found asbestos a police investigation had to be launched”.
The magistrate found Carvalho was simply mistaken when he said a member of the Asbestos Taskforce had given him an undertaking on April 29, to provide several reports about the property.
On Tuesday, Mr Mulligan found Carvalho guilty of the sole offence of obstruction, but said he would not impose a conviction because the situation was so minor it did not warrant punishment.
“[You were] very polite, not violent, not vocal, you were simply a man who was concerned about the matter,” Mr Mulligan said.
He pointed to submissions made by Mark Davis, Carvalho’s defence lawyer, who had highlighted that police had not used other means that day, such as a move-on order or reasonable force, to get Carvalho out of the way for the truck.
Prosecutor Brian Ngugi did not speak against a non-conviction order.