A SOCIAL worker who attempted to learn the secret location of his ex-partner and her children has faced Bendigo Magistrates Court.
The family had been moved to a hidden address on the advice of a family violence service and the children had been told not to disclose it to their father.
He pleaded guilty on Friday morning to breaching the order by asking the children over FaceTime where they were, where they had been going and what they had been doing. He asked them if he was a "bad dad" and if they disliked going to his house. He also shared a photo of himself with the children online.
A defence lawyer said the social worker "understands now the children find it distressing" for him to question them about their location and his fathering abilities.
The court was told that the man's ex-partner was "petrified" of running into him on the street and the children had become afraid to leave the house.
"After getting a PSO (personal safety order) and being relocated I was already feeling scared and he knew that," the woman told the court through a victim impact statement.
"I feel afraid everyday - wondering what he is going to do next."
She broke down in tears when reading victim impact statements to the court from her children.
"I'm sorry - it's hard to keep a promise to your children like this," she said of reading their statements to the court.
Magistrate Patrick Southey said the man's guilty plea and lack of a criminal history weighed in his favour and he would be placed on a two-year good behaviour bond.
"It's arguably a selfish, self absorbed breach," he said.
"I take into account you are (mature aged), you have never been in trouble in your life, and the affect a conviction would have on your career which would then harm your ability to support your children.
"Without conviction, it will be a good behaviour bond but - because it is a serious charge and a message needs to be sent - it will be a bond for two years.
"If you stay out of trouble for two years it will go away without conviction. You need to think carefully about what you do and say. Read the order carefully."
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