Hervey Bay Courthouse.
Hervey Bay Courthouse. Alistair Brightman

Judge frustated at rise in crime


THE LAST sitting of the Hervey Bay District Court did nothing to reduce the growing backlog of criminal cases waiting to be heard.

Only one trial was completed during the two-week sitting which ended yesterday.

The first few days of the sitting were taken up by a case in which five men with alleged ties to the Rebels Motorcycle Club were accused on intimidating the owners of a Maryborough Business.

The trial was expected to take up the first week but a mistrial was called when the defence claimed that some media coverage could have prejudiced the jury.

The prosecution was not prepared to go ahead with further cases on the Thursday and Friday.

Last Monday a second trial was supposed to start but the jury was dismissed when some of the members recognised the defendant's father.

That trial finished Wednesday and there was no time for another to begin.

In August Judge Leanne Clare expressed her frustration during the two weeks she presided over a sitting.

While she appreciated the efforts of the Crown prosecutors and defence barristers Judge Clare said a lack of continuity and the limited number of sittings made the process “extremely difficult”.

“There's a lot to be said about continuity,” she said

“Regional courts often suffer because of the lack of it.”

In the lead-up to the August sitting Hervey Bay Magistrate Graeme Tatnell had expressed his concern with the circuit when he was asked to commit a case to the district court for trial.

At the time he noted the date the offences in question were committed and said “these offences happened in 2007 – the witnesses won't remember what happened by then”.

At the end of the August sitting more than 80 names were still on the waiting list.

It is believed at least 70 more cases are still waiting to be heard.

The last two-week sitting of the year will run from December 5.

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