Defence to lodge sex case appeal

A FORMER high-achieving Northern Rivers school teacher will appeal a jury decision in Lismore District Court convicting him of four counts of sexual assault against his daughter, on the grounds that he is not guilty.

Defence counsel Anthony Smith confirmed outside the courtroom (following the sentencing of his client) he intended lodging a conviction appeal against the jury finding and the sentence.

He said the father strongly maintained his innocence.

The Brisbane-based barrister said he was unhappy with the way the trial proceeded in December because it was listed for four days but stretched into eight.

Mr Smith said there were two main reasons and it should not have happened. He said there had been ‘constant equipment failure’ and court interruptions to the trial.

“This caused the jury to be wheeled in and out the court-room on a regular basis and disrupted the capacity of the defence to cross-examine him,” Mr Smith said.

He said the trial was constantly interrupted by other legal matters being mentioned before the District Court judge that would not be allowed to occur on circuit district courts in Queensland.

“These constant adjournments were interruptions to the flow of the trial and the blowing-out of professional costs for the defendant. And turning a very serious matter into one where the jury could just walk in and out of,” he said. “It was a matter that required the jury’s constant attention without interruption, and blew out to such an extent that the case could never get a (regular) flow on.”

Mr Smith emphasised it was not a criticism of the judge who was simply ‘struggling with the weight of a system that was unmanageable’, but it was impinging on the right for a fair trial that could cause the system to fall into disrepute.

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