Joe Karam awarded over $500,000 damages

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 12:04 17/04/2014
joe karam
GRAHAME COX/ Fairfax NZ
BAIN SUPPORTER: Joe Karam.

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David Bain supporter Joe Karam has been awarded more than $500,000 in damages after two men were found to have defamed him on the internet.

Kent Parker, the publisher of the Counterspin website, was ordered to pay $350,500 and Vic Purkiss, who had posted on the site and on Facebook, was ordered to pay $184,500.

Justice Patricia Courtney found the pair had launched a "full-scale assault on Mr Karam's reputation".

She found about 50 statements were defamatory without defence.

Karam is the main supporter of David Bain, who was retried after 13 years in prison and found not guilty of the 1994 murder of his family.

The judge said the pair accused Karam of "dishonesty in his motivations, lack of integrity in his dealings with expert witnesses, fraud in relation to the LSA (Legal Services Agency), lack of integrity in his motivation and dealings with David Bain".

"Few aspects of Mr Karam's reputation were left untouched."

The publications caused Karam great distress and the judge said she accepted the evidence of witnesses who said Karam became "preoccupied, unsociable and visibly distressed" during the period.

Justice Courtney said the pair pleaded the defence of truth right up until Parker was cross-examined in court and admitted he could not prove the truth of his statements.

Of the award against Parker, $10,000 was punitive damages.

The judge also made an order that the pair not make any more defamatory statements about Karam and that they remove the material from the internet.

Speaking from his Hawke's Bay home this morning, Parker said he would appeal the judgment as the amount ordered against him was "totally disproportionate".

"I was thinking 12 to 25 [thousand] in damages," he said.

He said he did not have the means to pay the $350,000.

Parker agreed that he had admitted the defamation while under cross-examination.

"Obviously, they managed to break me," he said.

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