‘Despicable’: Magistrate’s fury as Jubelin case adjourned
THE trial of one of Australia's most famous former homicide detectives, Gary Jubelin, came to a shuddering halt just minutes into proceedings on Monday, when the legal team for the NSW Police Commissioner was forced to admit it had bungling its preparations, and wasn't ready to begin.
Magistrate Ross Hudson was deeply unimpressed, describing the bungling of proceedings as "unacceptable" and "despicable".
"I don't want feeble excuses. I want concrete answers. I want to get this underway," Mr Hudson insisted, but it was not to be.
Mr Jubelin had been due to face court on charges related to his handling of one of the most baffling mysteries in Australian history: the disappearance of a three-year-old foster child, William Tyrrell, who vanished in 2014, with no trace ever found.
The stakes could not be higher for Mr Jubelin, who is accused of professional misconduct, by recording four conversations with a possible "person of interest" without first obtaining a warrant. He denies wrongdoing.
The decision to charge Mr Jubelin while a formal, coronial inquest into William's disappearance is underway has perplexed some observers.
NSW Police are still trying to find William, and there are a number of suppression orders in place, designed to protect the work they are doing. Those suppression orders will have to be lifted, at least in part, before Mr Jubelin's trial can begin, otherwise it won't be clear what he allegedly did wrong.
As the court heard yesterday, that could in turn "derail" the investigation into William's disappearance.
In startling scenes, Mr Hudson blasted the NSW Police Commissioner's legal team for raising this only after Mr Jubelin's trial began.
"I'm going to five you 15 minutes to sort this out," he said.
The NSW police commissioner's barrister, Rob Bhalla, told the court about two pressing problems.
The first was trying to find an assistant commissioner of NSW police who was "not conflicted, given the nature and previous role of the defendant".
Mr Jubelin was, before he was charged, one of the nation's best known homicide detectives. There is hardly anyone he doesn't know in the NSW police force.
The second problem was how to get the deputy state coroner Harriet Grahame, who is presiding over a coronial inquest, to lift her suppression orders.
In essence, the court was all ready to sit, but the Police Commissioner's team wasn't prepared.
"It was by oversight, I must admit," Mr Bhalla said, of his failure to try to get the suppression orders lifted before the trial got underway.
"We didn't become aware (until last week) that they (the suppression orders) are so restrictive, that we couldn't show them to your honour," he said.
Mr Hudson demanded to know: "What can be done today?"
"I don't think much can be done today, in light of what I've just told you," Mr Bhalla responded.
Mr Hudson was not impressed, wanting to know why they had been "dragging the chain."
This was, he said, something that should have been done "back in September."
"I will take all of the criticism your honour throws at me," Mr Bhalla said.
He wanted to know why Ms Grahame wasn't available.
"I can't say in open court," Mr Bhalla said. "There was a breakdown in communications."
Mr Hudson lashed him, saying: "The more you say, the lighter the excuse becomes. It has no weight to it, your excuse. You need to go outside. You need to make some calls. No if, what, or maybe."
Mr Bhalla tried to interject, but Mr Hudson wasn't having it.
"Don't cut across me," he said. "I've just told you what you need to do. This matter is ready to proceed."
Mr Bhalla pleaded for understanding, saying: "I can't say why she (the Coroner) cannot do it today. It's a personal reason. She cannot vary the order until after 4pm. No amount of phone calls from me is going to change it."
Mr Hudson replied: "You are stopping somebody getting their hearing, when they have waited since September. I want concrete answers, not feeble excuses."
The matter was adjourned until February 4.