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Legal system fails again. Corbell declares never again.

By Thumper - 19 June 2008 23

Like the Raven in Poe’s The Raven, Simon Corbell has rightly come out saying ‘never more’ in this sadly bungled case.

The office of the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions will review all cases set down for trial to prevent the unavailability of witnesses leading to another aborted prosecution. The Canberra Times revealed yesterday that a trial relating to an alleged home invasion and the assault of an 84-year-old man was scrapped this week because the prosecution had failed to make arrangements for a key witness to give evidence.

On Tuesday, the DPP dropped all charges against 32-year-old career criminal Ivan Stephen Djerke, because without the prosecution’s medical expert the case had little prospect of success.

It had been alleged that in 2005 Djerke burgled the Mawson home of an elderly man with Alzheimer’s disease and tied him up.

An alleged co-offender is being tried separately.

ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell said yesterday he had been advised by acting director Michael Chilcott that an administrative error was responsible for the failure to subpoena the doctor before the trial.

The DPP would review all cases listed for trial to prevent future oversights of this nature.

This is pathetic.

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23 Responses to
Legal system fails again. Corbell declares never again.
Clown Killer 9:27 am 20 Jun 08

You’re almost certainly right VP. I hadn’t really bothered to inform myself of the details as such – having learned everything I know on this issue from about 5 seconds of sound grab on the radio last night … but there’s aboslutely no substitute for going off half-cocked.

VicePope 9:22 am 20 Jun 08

ClownKiller – as I read it, the doctor’s evidence would not be about placing the accused at the scene, but explaining why the victim should not be required to give evidence.

Clown Killer 7:48 am 20 Jun 08

Methinks that the prosecutions inability to produce the witness capable of providing the evidence that placed the defendant at the scene is by no means a ‘technicality’. These people have had three years to get their crap in a heap. “Your Honour, I’d now like to call our signle expert witness … tumbleweed rolls by …”

The toe-rag accused of this crime isn’t going anywhere fast anyway, he’s going to be in the big house for while on account of his other crimes.

sepi 9:36 pm 19 Jun 08

Did they only just work out who teh offender was, or has it taken 3 years to get to court?

Thanks for clarifying.

TAD 9:14 pm 19 Jun 08

Theres a bit more to it.

This was a matter before the late Justice Connolly who decided that the victim’s original statement and identification of the offender in a photoboard would be his evidence as the victim’s alzheimers had become worse in the 3 years since the incident.

Justice Gyles decided after he took over that all previous bets were off and decided to revisit this decision. Doctors must be served 6 weeks in advance of a court hearing unlike the rest of us who only require 6 days.

sepi 9:02 pm 19 Jun 08

I’d find it hard to imagine true rehabilitation for this guy.

And also for those who commit crimes becuase they are mentally unwell – they should still serve out a term for these crimes, even if it is in a mental institution , instead of a jail.

Thumper 8:51 pm 19 Jun 08

Poor old man. Scared, confused…..

I feel for the poor bloke. What has society come to when a defenceless, inoffensive old man is treated to this?

I know a lot of people talk about rehabilitation for these criminals, but really, if you are capable of deeds such as this, are you really capable of being rehabilitated?

sepi 8:45 pm 19 Jun 08

This wasn’t that kind of mistake – just slackness/disorganisation.

They needed a medical expert to rule that the alzheimer’s victim was in capable of testifying. They knew this for months, and knew the trial date, but forgot to book the expert in. Surprise surprise they were unavailable at short notice, so that whole case folds.

Headbonius 8:44 pm 19 Jun 08

Pickle, are you drunk, stoned or worse still just a moron? What we are talking about here is a simple administrative error. It reminds me of that old saying “People in glass houses etc….Mr Djerke, described as a career criminal in the CT is where is belongs and it is terrible that this matter has gone down the tube but lets all realise something here it has gone down the tube at the whim, nay, dummy spit of a petulant justice over an innocent mistake that whilst it may have cost money to remedy it would have been but a minor hiccup. Sepi, if you read the paper it was the second time this matter was re-heard due to the stuff of the the presiding justice dying prematurely, so yeah I suppose you could call that a stuff up.

Vice Pope – you make a good point about judges getting “Ansty” about DPP asking for an adjournment but JFC when the defendant asks for an adjournment they fckuen bend over backwards to please them. We live in a society of soft, social liberationist judges that hand out shit sentences for serious crimes.

bd84 8:42 pm 19 Jun 08

of course I mean not guilty too.

proves my point though lol

bd84 8:40 pm 19 Jun 08

Again another thug has charges dropped because on “administrative errors” or “legal technicalities”. It’s time that these options are removed from legislation and as an options for judges to rule on, someone forgetting to dot an i or cross a t somewhere should not be a reason for charges to be dropped or for someone to be found guilty.

sepi 7:56 pm 19 Jun 08

Yep – i’d say these kind of administrative stuff ups are less common in Sydney too. this was the second time this case was re-heard due to a stuff up. And it costs us a fortune to get these judges down from Sydney – what a waste of everyone’s time.

The guy is in jail for an unrelated thing – due out in 2009 – so they better get it right next time. Of course the eledrly victim may not last that long…

Pickle 7:45 pm 19 Jun 08

What if when he next re-offends and lets just say he happens to hurt a family member of headbonius,

Shucks it was just a mistake…

Not to mention the cost of investigation lawyers court time etc
Not to mention the cost to the previous victim(s)…

Shucks it was just a mistake…

I suspect this “jerk” is simply not used to seeing such incompetence in Sydney.

VicePope 7:44 pm 19 Jun 08

DPP made a mistake and tried to fix it by asking for an adjournment. Most courts and most judges will get antsy about this, but will seldom chuck out a prosecution unless there is something major and unfair. His Honour decided to cut the prosecution.

If one is facing serious charges, and perhaps has been negotiating about those charges, it would be easy to see a prosecution blunder that warrants an adjournment as an attempt to put on pressure. At some point, even those accused of the most serious matters should be able to expect the prosecution to put up or shut up. There can be significant personal cost, and there may be unwarranted stress caused by letting the prosecution stagger through repeated adjournments. That strain does not just belong to the accused, but also to the victim and any witnesses who have to steel themselves for what may be a hard time.

Gyles J suggested the ACT DPP had form for messing things up. Whatever the odds of getting his decision reviewed in this case, that decision should shame the DPP into doing a better job in future. And, with the accused already in custody according to Headbonius and a victim whose comprehension is probably limited, this may not have been a bad case in which to spit the dummy.

Headbonius 7:16 pm 19 Jun 08

Thumper, what is useless is Justice Roger Gyles. Who the hell does this jerk think he is? What? He’s never made a mistake? His fellow judges have never made a mistake? FFS these people need to get a grip. A slight administrative error does not an aborted trial make in the real world. What a jerk. Mr Djerke is not sweating on the outcome either as a free man. He is in gaol. Gyles and many other justices (a term used very loosely I might add) need to climb down out of their ivory towers and get with the program.

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