Former UTS dean found not guilty of nine charges in fake harassment trial

A former dean of science at the University of Technology Sydney accused of sending threatening letters to herself and colleagues has been found not guilty of nine charges.

In the NSW district court on Monday, judge Ian Bourke ordered the jury to find Dianne Jolley not guilty of three counts of sending a letter to induce a false belief it would cause danger.

The charges related to messages allegedly sent via Australia Post to herself and colleagues, claiming to have been dipped in a “nasty” vibrio bacteria grown in the labs.

The jury was directed to deliver not guilty verdicts for a further six charges of conveying information likely to make a person fear for their safety, knowing that it was misleading.

Jolley, 51, still faces 10 of those charges and one count of causing financial disadvantage by deception after the university spent more than $127,000 on security measures to protect her. She has pleaded not guilty.

The former professor began giving evidence on Monday stating that when she started her $320,000 role at UTS in December 2018 she had no preconceived ideas about what courses should continue.

The court has previously heard Jolley orchestrated the campaign to gain “emotional and physical” support for closing down the traditional Chinese medicine course, deemed the least financially viable in the science faculty.

She said on Monday she relied on a report’s recommendations following a “deep-dive” review of the Chinese medicine course, which caused stress among faculty staff.

The court has heard evidence she received numerous notes including one that read “Chop our future we chop yours” and that Jolley had clothes in her backyard shredded.

She said she was approached and threatened twice in 2019 on her travels between work and home by Chinese members of the community.

One handwritten note she found bundled in her briefcase was placed in a yellow UTS envelope. “It said they were going to give my photo to the Chinese mafia … among other things,” Jolley told the court.

While she was initially intimidated, she was not scared, knowing this was a difficult and stressful time for many, she said.

The scientist was quizzed about video footage captured on 13 November at the university of her typing up one note.

Jolley testified she thought about “putting a letter together” the evening before, and she sat down and wrote it soon after arriving at work.

“We have removed a dean before we can do it again,” the letter read. “You do not belong here. You are not wanted here. Either leave or we will do it.”

Crown prosecutor Roger Kimball said: “Your plan was to have someone else find it … to have that letter given to security to show you were still being threatened.”

Jolley replied: “No, that’s not correct.”

The former dean said she heard the threats being made outside a bathroom on campus and deliberately typed the note in front of a CCTV camera “so they knew I had written it myself”.

She did not pass the letter on to detectives as she had done with others she says were not written by her, because at that point she wanted a misconduct investigation.

“I wasn’t in a good headspace,” she said. The trial continues.

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