Instagram-famous cavoodle owner tells court he ‘never wanted’ A Current Affair story on custody dispute

The former owner of Instagram-famous cavoodle Oscar has told a court he never wanted A Current Affair to broadcast a story about his custody dispute with a decorated barrister and tried to get it scrapped at the last minute.

Gina Edwards is suing A Current Affair and journalist Steve Marshall for defamation over the 2021 reporting of her custody battle with Mark Gillespie.

Mr Gillespie told the Federal Court on Tuesday that he never approached the Nine News program about covering the case, and that a producer contacted him in 2020.

There was no story at the time, but Mr Gillespie continued to have contact with the producer until they eventually put him in touch with Mr Marshall in 2021.

“I never wanted them to proceed with the show,” Mr Gillespie said.

He said as time went on he became worried about getting into trouble and urged Mr Marshall not to air the story.

“I know you’re working on this, but must not air without permission,” Mr Gillespie texted the reporter.

“Just want to check so I don’t have a nervous breakdown, or end up in jail, or more cases against me.”

Camera IconBarrister Gina Edwards has launched defamation proceedings against A Current Affair over the reporting of a custody dispute involving cavoodle Oscar. Supplied Credit: Supplied

Mr Gillespie said the journalist did not respond to the text so he sent another message the next day.

“Morning Steve, please confirm the above to settle all my nerves as I’m making myself sick over all this,” Mr Gillespie wrote.

The reporter replied that he was chatting with his executive producer, then called Mr Gillespie to inform him they would air the story the next night.

Mr Gillespie told the court he was upset and believed they needed his permission.

He also informed Mr Marshall that he had been served a provisional apprehended personal violence order for Ms Edwards and had to appear in court.

But he did not hear back from Mr Marshall about that, he said.

Mr Gillespie subsequently sent another text message after seeing promotional videos for the story on Facebook and said people were “going crazy” commenting on it.

After the story aired, he thanked Mr Marshall but could not recall why he texted that message.

Court Gina Edwards
Camera IconGina Edwards (L) previously testified in court. NCA NewsWire/Christian Gilles Credit: News Corp Australia

The court was previously told Mr Gillespie bought the dog in 2016 and registered Ms Edwards’ husband Ken Flavell as the “secondary contact”.

However, the couple described Mr Flavell as the secondary owner during their respective testimonies.

In May 2018, Mr Gillespie’s brother and sister-in-law began caring for Oscar at a property in Wingello, in the NSW Southern Highlands, while he was working away as a cruise ship director.

Ms Edwards and Mr Gillespie later had a confrontation in July that year over Oscar’s care arrangement, with Ms Edwards claiming the relatives were not grooming, walking and feeding the dog appropriately.

In late 2019, Mr Gillespie’s relatives reported Oscar as stolen, which eventually led to the custody dispute.

In August 2020, Mr Gillespie told his lawyer he wanted to settle the case but did not want to inform his relatives initially because they were on a “witch hunt”.

Asked what they were doing, he said: “Just over-talking the situation and going through everything, and driving me crazy with it.”

The court was previously told about tensions between Ms Edwards and Mr Gillespie’s sister-in-law, with both testifying they did not get along well.

In November 2021, consent orders were finally made to give Oscar to Ms Edwards and Mr Flavell.

The defamation case will return to court next year for closing addresses.

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