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Australia COVID-19 lockdown in Sydney expected to delay murder trial of NT police officer Zachary Rolfe

14:04  21 july  2021
14:04  21 july  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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What does COVID - 19 have to do with a Darwin trial ? The NT government declared Sydney and some surrounding areas coronavirus hotspots about two weeks ago, meaning people from more than 30 local government areas will need to undertake a fortnight of quarantine if they travel to the NT . According to comments made in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, key lawyers set to prosecute the case against Constable Rolfe were currently locked down in Sydney . The trial was due to begin on July 26. Yuendumu is a remote community north-west of Alice Springs.

A Supreme Court judge rules the trial of NT police officer Zachary Rolfe , who is charged with the murder of Yuendumu man Kumanjayi Walker, will be heard in Darwin, not Alice Springs. Constable Rolfe 's trial has been set for July 2021, with proceedings expected to run for five weeks. He remains on bail, suspended from the NT Police Force. Posted 17 DecDecember 2020ThuThursday 17 DecDecember 2020 at 4:46am, updated 17 DecDecember 2020ThuThursday 17 DecDecember 2020 at 5:04am.

Paul McCue MAICD wearing a suit and tie: Constable Zachary Rolfe, right, is charged with murdering Kumanjayi Walker in 2019. (ABC News: Michael Franchi) © Provided by ABC NEWS Constable Zachary Rolfe, right, is charged with murdering Kumanjayi Walker in 2019. (ABC News: Michael Franchi)

The murder trial of Northern Territory police officer Zachary Rolfe is expected to not go ahead as planned next week after the COVID-19 lockdown in Sydney prevented key prosecutors from travelling to Darwin.

Constable Rolfe has been charged with one count of murder following the death of Indigenous teenager Kumanjayi Walker in Yuendumu in November 2019.

The trial was scheduled to begin on Monday next week.

But Crown Prosecutors Phillip Strickland SC and Sophie Callan SC, who are based in Sydney, are currently in lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak in New South Wales.

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Constable Zachary Rolfe is charged with murder in relation to the shooting death of 19-year-old Kumanjayi Walker in the remote community of Yuendumu in November 2019. Judge Birch confirmed Mr Rolfe would appear via video link from Canberra for the committal hearing, due to biosecurity concerns related to COVID - 19 . However, Mr Strickland, who was in Sydney for Friday's hearing and appeared via phone, said he would be appearing in person at the committal hearing, as he had been given an exemption to mandatory quarantine by the chief medical officer of the NT .

A Northern Territory police officer accused of murdering an Indigenous teenager has been committed to stand trial in the territory’s supreme court. Const Zachary Rolfe , 29, was told on Monday by Alice Springs local court judge John Birch that he would face a jury because he was satisfied there was enough evidence for the matter to proceed to the supreme court. Warlpiri man Kumanjayi Walker, 19 , died after being shot three times by Rolfe as four officers attempted to arrest him in the remote Aboriginal community of Yuendumu in central Australia on 9 November 2019.

After three days of pre-trial court hearings, which were closed to the public, a spokesperson for the NT Supreme Court confirmed the trial is expected to be delayed.

Acting Justice Dean Mildren is expected to officially adjourn the matter when the pre-trial hearing resumes tomorrow.

A future trial date has not yet been set.

Mr Rolfe has previously indicated to the court he intends to plead not guilty to the charge.

The court previously heard the prosecutors intended to apply for an exemption to travel to the Northern Territory.

The NT Attorney-General's Department told the ABC in "substantial and complex matters" it was not uncommon for counsel to be sourced from interstate.

"It is often the case that there are no local senior counsel available or with the necessary experience," a spokesperson said.

"This case was one such matter."

They said enquiries were made throughout Australia to source an experienced and skilled counsel.

They said the case was prepared and managed by a senior local lawyer from within the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Supreme Court spokesperson said some matters of law relating to the case will be referred to the Full Court to determine.

A directions hearing will take place tomorrow to set a date for a Full Court hearing.

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