Pair accused of gunpoint carjacking to face Lismore trial
TWO MEN who sparked a massive cross-border police chase from Caboolture in Queensland right through to Northern NSW will face trial in the Lismore District Court next year.
Brisbane men John Tough, 33, and Calin McCabe, 22, are alleged to have hijacked three cars at gunpoint and fired shots at motorists and police as they desperately tried to evade capture during the dramatic four-hour, 150km pursuit on February 5, 2015.
Extensive footage of the action was recorded by police helicopter on the day and widely aired in the media.
Tough and McCabe appeared in the Lismore District Court on Thursday via videolink from Long Bay jail, where Judge Laura Wells dismissed an application by the pair to receive a trial by judge alone, instead of a 12-member jury.
Both men are charged with more than 10 offences including attempted murder, carjacking, and discharging a firearm with intent to resist arrest.
Trial by judge alone may be granted where there is "significant prejudice" towards the accused which could hamper a fair trial.
In this case the pair's lawyers argued the amount of footage and publicity of the event would constitute prejudice.
Judge Wells noted the car chase went from north of Brisbane all the way to Tweed Heads and was well documented.
She noted the police footage included several occasions where the men could be seen stealing vehicles at gunpoint, as well as firing shots.
She also noted a long list of witnesses were expected to testify in the trial, including many police.
While Judge Wells described the day's events as "spectacular" , and said there was "some degree of infamy attached to the footage", she ruled that this did not necessarily amount to significant prejudice.
The footage was also key evidence the prosecution would be relying on.
Mr Tough grumbled as the application was formally dismissed and asked if he could say something but Judge Wells silenced him and directed him to his lawyers.
The trial is now scheduled to start on Monday, July 24, 2017.