23 August 2021

Zachary Rolfe murder trial delayed after High Court decision

| Albert McKnight
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Zachary Rolfe

Constable Zachary Rolfe, from Canberra, is facing the prospect of a murder trial in the Northern Territory, where he has worked as a policeman. Photo: File.

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.

READ ALSO Rolfe trial should begin Monday as planned after application to delay rejected

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.

READ ALSO Son of prominent Canberra businessman charged with NT murder

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.

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Unfortunately I think Rolfe may be a sort of scapegoat. There have been many cases of police violence towards Indigenous people over the years where the police have not been held to account and now the authorities are under pressure to bring cases like this to trial.

I hope he is treated fairly and the truth comes out. He was doing a very difficult job.

Without commenting on this case specifically I would like to provide some statistics that give a background to the environment faced by police officers in the Northern Territory.
Crime rates are measured per hundred thousand people. The murder rate in Australia is about one per hundred thousand, in the US 5 per hundred thousand and in the Northern Territory 7 per hundred thousand. There are variations and 2 years before the Rolfe case in the Central command division of the Northern Territory police which is Katherine, Tennant Creek and surrounds the murder rate was at 50 per hundred thousand though there were less than 100,000 people there. In the Southern command division which includes Alice Springs and the remote communities around it a former Chief coroner of the Northern Territory made the observation that it had the highest stabbing rate in the world at 330 per hundred thousand people.

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Whitepointer5:38 pm 23 Aug 21

Definitely a lot more to this case than is being reported to the public.

Seriously.. Who would be a cop.? You get stabbed and in the heat of the moment protect yourself and then spend the next bunch of years stressed out and waiting to see if your life is destroyed..!! thats not a job..

This is indeed a very curious case.

On the surface it seems a pretty clear case of self defense, but the DPP seems to be going all out to prosecute him and perhaps it is just the way it’s reported, but they seem to be doing their best to prevent him getting a fair trial.

So I’m very curious.

Is there something else going on here that the public doedn’t know about?

Or is this cop merely a victim of the BLM movement and being made an example of because he killed an indigenous man?

Hopefully the trial will clear it all up.

I can’t help but feel that if CrimA shot and killed CrimB while being attacked and stabbed by CrimB then they would get off on a self defense argument.

So what is going on here?

Do police not have the right to protect their own lives?

Capital Retro4:01 pm 23 Aug 21

The Northern Territory government charged Lindy Chamberlain with murder too and how did that end up?

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