Tag Archives: Magistrate David Bamber

Liam Jurrah to stand trial in the Supreme Court

 

The decision is “unrelated to guilt”, says his defence counsel. 

 

Report #7. First posted 1:00pm July 25. Updated 3.28pm July 25. See earlier reports below.

 

Liam Jurrah has been committed to stand trial in the Supreme Court on a charge of assault causing serious harm, as well as three further counts of assault on three separate victims.

This is also the case for his co-accused, Christopher Walker and Josiah Fry.

Mr Walker’s lawyer, Tania Collins, told the court Mr Walker will be pleading guilty to the ’cause serious harm’ charge.

Mr Jurrah’s family and supporters in the courtroom and waiting for him in the lobby accepted the news quietly but appeared downcast.
Outside the court defence counsel Jon Tippett QC told media that moving the case from the Court of Summary Jurisdiction into the Supreme Court is “unrelated to guilt”. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: Liam Jurrah leaving court after he had been committed to stand trial. Ahead of him is Melbourne Football Club official Craig Lees. FULL STORY »

Hearing of charges against Barry Abbott again delayed

 

The hearing of charges against Barry Abbott, former NT Senior Australian of the Year, and four others was again put off today because the prosecution had still not received a full briefing from police.

There are aggravated assault charges against Mr Abbott, 67, and two counts of depriving a person of personal liberty.

He is best known for looking after young people in trouble with the justice system and particularly petrol sniffers on his outstation at Ilpurla.  Over the decades he has helped rehabilitate hundreds of youths.

He was arrested last October after a youth ran away from the outstation and came to the attention of police in Alice Springs. Police subsequently removed a further six teenagers and another from a nearby community and placed them in FACS care.

Mr Abbott’s co-accused – two younger men and two younger women – are facing multiple counts of deprivation of liberty as well as other charges. There are also aggravated assault charges against the men.

The matters had been listed for hearing on February 2 but postponed till today, again because the prosecution was not ready to proceed.

Magistrate David Bamber expressed some impatience from the bench, however as the missing prosecution material includes medical reports relating to the alleged victims of “serious harm”, it was not possible for the defence to object to the adjournment. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: Mr Abbott outside the Alice Springs courthouse today. FULL STORY »

SMART Court gets first graduates … and first romance

It was an opportunity to remake her life and she took it: she turned from regular heavy drinking – of up to 30 cans of full strength beer in a sitting and this since 1987 –  to being sober, taking on full-time employment, progressing in her job, looking after family, aspiring to rent her own flat.

Erica Lowah was one of three to graduate from the SMART Court program last Thursday. The three are the first in Alice Springs to complete the program  since its introduction in July last year.

SMART stands for “Substance Misuse Assessment and Referral for Treatment”. Sentencing of offenders with serious alcohol and/or drug problems is deferred while they undertake programs as ordered by the court. The programs are tailored to individual needs but the bottom line is total abstinence.

Ms Lowah had been charged with high range drink driving and driving while disqualified and these were not her first drink driving offences. By entering the SMART Court program, she was given a chance to avoid gaol time and to get her life back on track.

A cake was brought into the court to celebrate the achievements of the graduates. Everyone was beaming. The usual formalities, already not great in this court, dropped away. I was even allowed to get out my pocket camera and take a snap, with the quietly proud Ms Lowah agreeing to have her photo published.

Magistrate David Bamber joked with graduate Benjamin Smith that his was the first SMART Court romance: while on the program he entered and has remained in a relationship with a young woman who is also a program participant.

Mr Bamber reflected briefly on his experience of this very different court. The legislation was introduced quickly and he’d had little idea of what his role would involve. Visiting a similar court in New South Wales, he learnt that their main ‘problem’ was that people wanted to keep coming back, to let the court know how well they were doing. One NSW graduate had even brought his one-day-old baby to show the court’s team.

The stories reveal the importance of personal relationships in this court (in contrast to other courts where the personal is suppressed). The relationships obviously have their boundaries but there is an observable genuine warmth between the court’s team and the participants, especially those – not surprisingly – who respond well to the chance they’ve been given. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

 

Pictured: Erica Lowah receives her SMART court graduation certificate from Magistrate David Bamber. FULL STORY »

Court of good hope

A breakthrough in dealing with alcohol-related offending?

 

It’s a court like no other that I’ve been in: while everyone is waiting for the magistrate, there’s banter with the offender, about his tattoos, his girlfriend, his new job. They all join in, the legal aid lawyer, the court clinician, the police prosecutor and the correctional services officer. The offender is an open-faced, smiling young man in his twenties. He’s clearly well liked.

When Magistrate David Bamber enters, the good cheer continues. He speaks directly to the offender who responds for himself. The tone is conversational. The offender remains seated.

“So you haven’t had a smoke for four weeks,” comments Mr Bamber. He reads off the results of the defendant’s urinalysis: “You’ll be clean soon.”

This is the SMART Court, introduced in the Northern Territory this year. SMART stands for “Substance Misuse Assessment and Referral for Treatment”. The offender’s case would have been heard in the Court of Summary Jurisdiction and his sentence deferred while he’s been given a chance to comply with his SMART orders, among them total abstinence. There’s a system of rewards but also sanctions: non-compliance with orders can earn gaol time. Photo (from our archive): Many of the people appearing before the SMART Court have been convicted of medium and high-range drink-driving and other driving offences.   KIERAN FINNANE reports. FULL STORY »