Magistrate exonerates Barilaro staffer
The chief-of-staff to former NSW deputy premier John Barilaro was "collateral damage" in a fight over documents regarding the prosecution of friendlyjordies producer Kristo Langker, a magistrate says.
Siobhan Hamblin testified on Wednesday she always intended to fully comply with a court order to produce digital records on her work devices, only for Mr Barilaro to quit days after she received it.
The resignation left her without a job, without access to various accounts and with a requirement to hand back her work phone and laptop, she said.
"The unfortunate timing of the issuing of the subpoena and the machinations of how a government is dissolved ... have made this a difficult time for me personally, as well as navigating (these issues)," she told the Downing Centre Local Court.
Hamblin was ordered to physically appear in court after magistrate Jacqueline Milledge last week expressed dissatisfaction about the way a subpoena had been answered and the way Ms Hamblin had been represented.
The subpoena related to the prosecution of Langker, 21, who is defending two charges alleging he stalked or intimidated Mr Barilaro in Sydney in April and June.
The criminal case is part of a larger spat between Langker's boss Jordan Shanks and Mr Barilaro, who is suing over allegedly defamatory videos posted to Shanks' prominent YouTube channel friendlyjordies.
The Nationals MP cited the strain of the ongoing defamation case as playing "a big part" in his resignation, announced on October 4.
Ms Hamblin said she couldn't recall her state of mind on October 7 when her lawyers emailed Langker's about the subpoena.
"I just lost my job, nearly 20 of my staff had lost their jobs," she said.
"To say it was distressing would be an understatement."
Langker's lawyers later withdrew their opposition to her claim the subpoena was complied with, accepting she couldn't be compelled to produce documents she no longer possessed.
Ms Milledge said she was "absolutely satisfied" Ms Hamblin regarded the subpoena seriously immediately, brought it to the attention of her employer, the Department of Premier & Cabinet, and taken private legal advice.
"I do think you have been collateral damage in this," she said.
"They (Ms Hamblin's lawyers) started out doing the right things and then it all fell apart, and you were caught in the middle of it all.
"There was contempt shown to the court but certainly not by you."
By consent, Ms Hamblin was ordered to pay $3000 in costs spent by Langker in Friday's hearing.
Langker's legal team is now expected to subpoena the department for the documents it believes were created inside Mr Barilaro's office before their client was charged in June.
The case returns to court next Wednesday.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails