Kevin Leslie Baker, 79, was ordered to stand trial in the Rockhampton District Court historical child sex abuse allegations.
Kevin Leslie Baker, 79, was ordered to stand trial in the Rockhampton District Court historical child sex abuse allegations.

Why Neerkol child sex abuse case won't be heard in Rocky

CHILD sex abuse allegations involving a former Neerkol employee will not be heard in Rockhampton courts.

Kevin Leslie Baker, who was 78 years old when he was first charged with a string of historical sex offences in August 2017, had some matters mentioned in Rockhampton District Court yesterday.

The court heard Baker's defence team had made applications to the court including for a 'permanent stay of proceedings', a judge only trial and a change of venue to Brisbane.

A 'permanent stay of proceedings' is a ruling by the court that halts further legal process in a trial or other legal proceeding.

 

Defence lawyer Brian McGowran and accused child sex offender Kevin Leslie Baker leave Rockhampton court house.
Defence lawyer Brian McGowran and accused child sex offender Kevin Leslie Baker leave Rockhampton court house.

Judge Michael Burnett handed down his decision on the application yesterday, with the ultimate result being a jury trial in Gladstone next year.

Judge Burnett cited confidence in the justice system convicting people guilty of serious crimes as reason why proceedings should continue.

"This is not such an exceptional case to warrant a 'stay of proceedings'," he said.

Judge Burnett said the defence team had argued that due to publicity around "shocking claims" of what took place at the Neerkol Orphanage in Rockhampton in previous court cases and the Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, Mr Baker would not receive a fair trial in Rockhampton unless it was a judge only trial or held in Brisbane.

"The community wounds were reopened recently by the Royal Commission," he said.

"Neerkol is an emotive issue in this community."

But Judge Burnett ruled out a judge only trial saying the collective wisdom of the community was far superior to one judgment.

"I am not satisfied in the interest of justice that it should be conducted by judge alone," he said and proposed relocating to Gladstone.

He said Gladstone's demographic was different to that of Rockhampton and not subject to Rockhampton's influence.

The trial is likely to take place in February.



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