Magistrate micromanaging cases after justice delays
POLICE are feeling the sting of a Rockhampton magistrate as he grows impatient at lengthy justice delays.
Magistrate Mark Morrow is considering referring a Rockhampton case to Chief Magistrate Ray Rinaudo as he cracks down on delays in gathering evidence for cases before the courts, including one where a man has been held on remand while a police officer's error went unnoticed for four months.
Mr Morrow told police prosecutor Sergeant Darrell Dalton he was now "micromanaging" the cases, saying "justice delayed is justice denied".
Three matters were yesterday set down for hearings in coming months after inadequate police action in evidence gathering and analysis.
Earlier this week, Mr Morrow ordered fresh affidavits on a number of cases to be filed with the court by 5pm the next day or the investigating officer would be forced to take the witness stand or be charged with contempt of court. Read more here: Magistrate threatens QPS officers with charges
One of the matters, involving Grant Allen Smith, was set down for a hearing on October3 after the court was told DNA had been sent off for analysis only this week, despite the "full brief" being ready in July.
In another matter, the case of Gwenda Lee Brown, accused of fatally stabbing her 43-year-old partner on March 16 in Blackwater, is also facing delays. Read more here: Identity of accused CQ stabbing murderer revealed
Her defence lawyer Zoe Craven has received a partial brief from police but forensic evidence, including blood pattern analysis, is still outstanding.
An affidavit prepared this week read out in court contained "copy and paste" paragraphs from an affidavit three months old.
The affidavit stated it would take "about 10 weeks" to get results and statements from Queensland Health's Forensic and Scientific Services.
When Mr Morrow asked why he wasn't given a more specific date for the results' return, Sgt Dalton likened the matter to "how long is a piece of string".
"I can't run a justice system on that," Mr Morrow snapped.
Mr Morrow adjourned the matter for committal mention on August 29 with specific directions.
Another of Ms Craven's clients, Michael Shane Kemp, has had his matters set down for committal hand-up on August30 after Ms Craven said the prosecution's case relied on one fingerprint found on one item seized in a police raid.
However, police had not yet gathered Mr Kemp's fingerprints for analysis, which takes about four weeks. He is charged with producing a dangerous drug.
Ms Craven said she spoke with the investigating officer who told her they couldn't track down Mr Kemp.
However, Ms Craven said she told the officer that MrKemp was required to report to a Central Queensland police station on specific days as per his bail conditions.
Meanwhile, the court heard that police expected a five to six-month wait for communication records in relation to Jason David Brown's charges, with an affidavit in April advising it would take six to eight weeks and that same advice provided in a fresh affidavit filed this week. A hearing has been set for Brown's matters on October 2.
Solicitor Pierre Lammersdorf pushed for a hearing for one of his client's accused of assault occasioning bodily harm in a domestic violence matter where the police have been unable to find the victim since August 8. The hearing was set for October 22.
Another client, Ashley Grant Ball, has been given a hearing date of October 3 after the investigating officer informed the court through an affidavit that statements from three material witnesses would not be completed until September 22 because they were all "busy". The full brief was ordered on June 29.
Justin Thomasson, facing drug charges including two of supply, is in custody and his matters have been delayed an extra four months after the investigating officer failed to notice evidence in the case he had requested be sent to Brisbane for analysis in April was never sent.
The court was told the error had been detected earlier this month.
Mr Lammersdorf said he would be applying for bail for Mr Thomasson in the future and appreciated the officer's "frankness" about the error.
Mr Thomasson's case has been adjourned until September 19 for mention.