The husband of a barrister who is suing A Current Affair over broadcasts about an Insta-famous dog custody dispute has told a court he was “harassed” by a journalist while walking the animal near his home.
The broadcasts centred on a custody dispute involving an Insta-famous cavoodle called Oscar, who was looked after by Ms Edwards, her husband Ken Flavell and a friend, Mark Gillespie, as part of a shared custody arrangement.
Mr Flavell was called to give evidence during Ms Edwards’ Federal Court proceedings against the Nine News program.
iPhone footage captured by ACA journalist Steven Marshall was played to the court, in which he follows Mr Flavell and the cavoodle down along a street.
“Is it really worth it, Ken?” Mr Marshall is heard repeatedly asking.
Ms Edwards, a decorated Sydney barrister, is suing A Current Affair and one of its journalists, Steve Marshall, over two broadcasts which she claims falsely implied she was a thief who stole Oscar.
She also claims they falsely implied she exploited the dog for financial benefit and “deliberately” attempted to delay civil court cases.
Ms Edwards wants the stories removed from the internet and the archives, as well as payment for the damage incurred.
Nine has denied defaming Ms Edwards, saying the imputations of theft and stealing were not conveyed.
On Tuesday, Mr Flavell told the court Oscar’s expenses between the trio would be split when they looked after the dog.
Mr Flavell told the court it was a “three-parent relationship” because the dog’s other owner, Mr Gillespie, and himself travelled for work frequently.
“Mark brought Oscar over to us; he told us we were going to share,” Mr Flavell said.
“We purchased bedding, toys, food for when he was with us.
“Mark’s apartment was close to my office, so he would grant access to us with a key to go and check up on him.”
Mr Flavell said Ms Edwards had access to a “puppy cam” to watch Oscar at Mr Gillespie’s North Sydney home.
Posts on Oscar’s Instagram pages referred to Ms Edwards as “mommy”, he said.
Mr Flavell gave evidence Mr Gillespie said he needed to work abroad in mid-2018 and Oscar would be spending time with his relatives in Wingello – in the Southern Highlands of NSW.
He said Ms Edwards was reduced to tears during an argument with Mr Gillespie over the arrangement.
It ended with Mr Gillespie saying “keep the f–king dog”, he said.
Mr Flavell said Oscar appeared to “lose weight” and was “unkempt” when he returned from Wingello.
iPhone footage – filmed by Mr Marshall – depicting Mr Flavell walking Oscar through the street was played to the court, with Mr Marshall asking “Is this Mark’s dog?”
“What gives you the right to take Oscar from Mark?” Mr Marshall is heard asking.
Mr Flavell said he was “followed” for another 10 minutes by Mr Marshall.
He told the court he confided to Ms Edwards that night that he had been “stalked and harassed” by a man who “stuffed” a camera in his face.
Mr Flavell described his wife as a “shell of a person” after the confrontation with the film crew.
“(Gina) was shocked at how she was being portrayed, the words that were being used,” he said when they watched the program.
“She felt sick – sick to her stomach.”
Mr Flavell told the court Ms Edwards was “very scared” to go outside after the program, fearing she would be filmed again.
Nine’s barrister, Dauid Sibtain, asked Mr Flavell if Oscar’s fame could potentially have made a profit.
“We didn’t see any money from it,” Mr Flavell responded.
Friends of Gina Edwards, a decorated Sydney barrister, gave evidence of how her personality changed, with Valerie Roach saying she considered Ms Edwards “warm, hospitable and very generous” before the broadcast.
Ms Roach said every five to six weeks she would help ferry Oscar between Sydney and Wingello due to Mr Gillespie’s contract being extended, the court was told.
She said the cavoodle always appeared well-groomed while staying with Ms Edwards but when she picked him up, he looked “fairly scrappy” and thinner.
“It was obvious when I brought it home to them (Ms Edwards and Mr Flavell),” she said.
In cross-examination, Mr Sibtain quizzed her on her observations of Oscar, including the dog’s weight being in an “acceptable” range.
“I’m not a vet, I can’t comment on that,” Ms Roach replied.
On Monday, Ms Edwards’ barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC said the program “lied” by making the scenario look like a coincidence, when Mr Marshall and Mr Gillespie had in fact been staking out Ms Edwards at her house for hours earlier.
On the day the confrontation was filmed, Ms Roach gave evidence a distressed Ms Edwards phoned her and said: “Mark has Oscar”.
“I lunged at Oscar … I ended up with a starring role in this broadcast,” she said.
Ms Roach said the barrister was “absolutely shattered” – appearing pale, shaky and “simultaneously frozen on the spot”.
“She said she felt embarrassed, humiliated … very, very upset,” Ms Roach said.
The hearing continues.