The murder trial of Northern Territory policeman Constable Zachary Rolfe has been delayed after a High Court decision.
Constable Rolfe pleaded not guilty to all charges after he was accused of murdering 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker at Yuendemu, north-west of Alice Springs, on 9 November 2019.
Details released by the NT Supreme Court show Constable Rolfe is accused of shooting Mr Walker three times within a few seconds after the young man allegedly stabbed him in the shoulder with a pair of scissors.
The jury trial was scheduled to begin on Monday (23 August), but the prosecution urgently sought for the High Court to stay the trial so it could seek leave to appeal part of a judgment by the NT Supreme Court.
This morning, the High Court’s Justice Jacqueline Gleeson said she was satisfied there were “exceptional circumstances” in the case and granted the stay until a hearing for the special leave application takes place on 10 September.
“The trial of a member of the police force, whose functions include the protection of life, in connection with the death of the deceased, is a matter of the gravest community concern,” she said.
The special leave application concerns the NT Supreme Court’s previous interpretation of a certain act of law.
Earlier this month, the court had ruled Constable Rolfe could argue he was not criminally responsible for Mr Walker’s death if the jury found he was acting in “good faith” in his role as a police officer during the arrest of the young Indigenous Australian man.
Crown prosecutor Philip Strickland SC had argued there would be significant ramifications if Mr Rolfe were acquitted on the grounds that he had acted in good faith.
But Constable Rolfe’s defence team argued that further delays in the trial would be untenable.
In addition to the charge of murder, he is also facing alternative charges of manslaughter and engaging in a violent act that caused the death of the deceased.
His case will appear before the NT Supreme Court again on 13 September. Constable Rolfe is the son of well-known Canberra business couple and philanthropists Richard and Debbie Rolfe.