A man accused of threatening to kill South Australian Premier Steven Marshall and his children was not making an idle threat, but a “promise”, a court has heard.

Key points:

  • Kenneth Andrew Gillespie faced Adelaide’s District Court
  • Mr Gillespie is accused of making threats to kill SA’s Premier
  • He has pleaded not guilty to the charge of threatening a public officer

Kenneth Andrew Gillespie, 65, has pleaded not guilty to threatening a public officer in Adelaide’s District Court.

He is accused of ringing the electoral office of the Premier in September 2018, days after the State Government had announced it would close several metropolitan and regional TAFE campuses.

Electoral officer Sam Diprose told the jury that he was working at Mr Marshall’s Dunstan office at Norwood when he received the aggressive call.

He told the court that the caller threatened to “kill the Premier and his children” if “you close TAFE campuses”.

He told the court that it was one of the most aggressive calls he had taken, and that the caller stated he would attend a rally “with his tool belt” along with other tradesmen and “there would be a civil war” if police attended.

“I genuinely believed from what he told me that he was going to attend a rally … with the intention to kill the Premier.”

Sam Diprose (right) told the jury the phone call he took from Mr Gillespie had stayed with him for a long time.(ABC News: Claire Campbell)

Mr Diprose said he took notes from the calls before contacting police’s counterterrorism branch to report the threats.

The court heard that the 48-second call was also reported to the Premier’s executive assistant so Mr Marshall could be notified before two police officers on his security team were alerted.

Lawyers for Mr Gillespie asked Mr Diprose if the caller did not threaten to kill, but had actually said “the Premier would be ostracised” if he closed the TAFE campuses.

But Mr Diprose disputed that, and said there were at least three threats to kill Mr Marshall during the phone calls.

“They are words I will not forget for a while,” he told jurors.

Chris Weir, for the accused, asked the electoral officer if the call was instead about the privatisation of South Australian jails.

But Mr Diprose again disputed that submission, and said he only heard comments made about TAFE campuses closing.

In the prosecution’s opening address, Karen Ingleton told the court the “angry male” caller later rang back from the same number, but this time identified himself as “Craig” before making similar threats to kill the Premier.

“And those threats were in circumstances where the Premier was just doing his job, in good faith.”

The trial continues.