A pair of users of a well-known local website have found themselves in court.
Members can use eBrandon anonymously by signing up using a pseudonym — but it didn’t prove so anonymous for two men who were sentenced in provincial court on Monday.
"People … tend to feel that they’re anonymous, and in many ways they may be, but people also tend to say things online that they wouldn’t in person and that type of behaviour needs to be deterred," Crown attorney Grant Hughes told court.
In the first case, Robert Michael Stanley Wasilka threatened eBrandon owner and manager Adam Sobkow.
Hughes said that on Nov. 27, Wasilka sent a message via eBrandon in which he insulted Sobkow and told him to "be ready" as he was coming down to his office to "have a chat."
Sobkow reported the matter to police on Nov. 28, and said he’d been tracking Wasilka’s online activity on his site over concerns that a number of eBrandon users had been harassed in recent years.
To put a stop to it, Sobkow had blocked Wasilka from posting to the website’s classified ads — and that’s when things escalated.
Besides the message in November, Hughes said Wasilka also left Sobkow a series of harassing voice mails, including one left on Christmas Eve in which he threatened to punch Sobkow in the face.
It was that last incident for which 29-year-old Wasilka pleaded on Monday to uttering threats.
Judge Donovan Dvorak handed Wasilka an 18-month suspended sentence, which is a form of probation. As part of the order, Wasilka is to stay away from, and refrain from communicating with, Sobkow. He also can’t post anything to eBrandon.
In the second case, Sheldon William Ross Gould, 26, received a jail sentence for his illicit online activity.
In February, Gould was on a bail order that forbade him from communicating with his ex-girlfriend when he sent her five emails, left her 32 voice mail messages and phoned her another 84 times without leaving a message.
In voice mails quoted in court Monday by Crown attorney Rich Lonstrup, Gould implored his ex to call him. At times he was apologetic, at others he threatened court action on a variety of pretences.
Gould was arrested for that and had been released on bail — again with a no communication order with his former girlfriend — when he turned to eBrandon.
He opened a profile under the name "Line array," but used his own photo and posted a picture of his work vehicle. In April, he sent messages through the site to his ex — in one he asked her if they could talk, and in another he wished her happy birthday.
He also started a discussion thread on eBrandon in which he asked for advice about how to get over a breakup, Lonstrup said.
For the February incident that involved the emails, voice mails and phone calls, Dvorak fined Gould $500 and put him on 18 months probation.
For the eBrandon messages, Dvorak noted that Gould had already spent 39 days in presentence custody and imposed another day in jail. Gould was out of custody for his sentencing, so his court appearance counts as his day in jail.
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