- Milorad Trkulja was shot by an unknown gunman in 2004.
- Sued Google in 2012 after searches for his name returned pictures of underworld figures.
- Ruling overturned in 2016 but High Court has now ordered Google to pay costs.
A Melbourne man who was shot in the back at the height of the underworld killings in 2004 has been given High Court clearance to sue Google for defamation.
Google Image searches for “Milorad Trkulja” have been bringing up images of Trkjula alongside images of Melbourne mob figures, including jailed drug trafficker Tony Mokbel, for more than 10 years.
Trkulja was shot in the back in a Melbourne restaurant by an unknown gunman. In 2012, he won a defamation case against the search giant in the Victorian Supreme Court after claiming search results for his name were damaging his reputation.
Four years later, the decision was overturned in the Victorian Court of Appeal, but today, the High Court disputed that ruling and ordered Google pay Trkulja’s legal costs.
The search results still produce images of underworld figures alongside images of Trkulja. In March, Trkulja’s lawyer, Guy Reynolds, told the High Court his client’s image appeared alongside the likes of Chopper Read, Mick Gatto, Carl Williams, Mario Condello and Mark and Jason Moran.
Google claims it would be “irrational” to link Trkulja’s image with those of underworld figures, in the same way a person might not link them with pictures of movie star Marlon Brando, who also appears in some searches.
But Cheif Justic Susan Keifel disagreed, saying if someone searched for information on Melbourne underworld figures and Trkulja’s image or name appeared, that person could “rationally suppose” there was a link between the search query and the result.
Trkulja says similar results appear in autocomplete entries alongside searches for phrases like “Melbourne underworld criminals”.
Autocomplete entries under searches for “Milorad Trkulja” have in the past turned up phrases like “is a former hit man”.
Trkulja says he will pursue his defamation complaints against Google until his name is cleared.
“I’m not a criminal, I’ve never been involved and I will make sure these people are not going to ruin my family – I have grandchildren,” he told AAP.
“I will sue Google … and I will sue them ’til they stop. I want them to block my pictures.”
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