CHIEF Magistrate Ian Gray, Melbourne Magistrate’s Court, says any offence caused to a man who complained his 19 letter Greek surname was mocked was “sincerely regretted”. Fifty-year-old Spiros Chryssanthakopoulos complained he had been humiliated and racially vilified after a magistrate, clerk and police prosecutor laughed while discussing his name.
Mr Chryssanthakopoulos discovered the comments after he requested a court transcript and recording of a proceeding involving a traffic infringement notice which he thought was not proceeding and did not attend. Mr Chryssanthakopoulos has written to Mr Gray complaining that at one point a man can be heard on the recording making the comment “I can’t pronounce that sh–“.
Its not clear on the recording who made the comment. But the clerk can be heard laughing while struggling to pronounce Mr Chryssanthakopoulos’s name, before magistrate Jack Vandersteen says: “No wonder we can’t find him … he would have been a hard name to recite 25 times. There’s 19 letters in it.”
Mr Chryssanthakopoulos complained to Chief Magistrate Ian Gray, but has gone public because he is concerned the matter has been swept under the carpet. “I feel humiliated, I feel like the court and police are ganging up on me. The ticket, the racial vilification, the bungles, the vindictiveness, it’s all been a nightmare,” Mr Chryssanthakopoulos said yesterday.
In a letter dated March 18, Mr Gray said he did not believe the comment was offensive. “The comment was made following repeated and failed attempts of the clerk to pronounce your name when the case was being called,” Mr Gray wrote. “In my opinion, the recording does not demonstrate the magistrate was intending to cause you any offence. I am sure I speak for magistrate Vandersteen in saying that if any offence was caused, then it is sincerely regretted.”
Mr Chryssanthakopoulos’s saga began after he received a traffic infringement notice for allegedly driving in the transit lane on the Eastern Freeway in September 2009. The initial ticket was withdrawn, but somehow went to court anyway, though Mr Chryssanthakopoulos says he received no summons. Mr Chryssanthakopoulos has also complained he wrongly lost six demerit points, which have since been recredited.
There’s a recording at the source.