By ERWIN CHLANDA
There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth about our police, judicial and custodial resources being stretched to the limit.
Yet here is a “matter” that any average plod at the front counter of the police station could – and should – have fixed in the blink of an eye, but didn’t. This raises the question how often scarce resources are being wasted.
The events took up the time of officers in the police station, officers running the police lock-up, a police officer taking a prisoner to the court house, a magistrate, court staff, a police prosecutor, and a solicitor from a publicly funded legal aid service. And this unlikely to be an exhaustive list.
What’s more distressing, an innocent man was deprived of his liberty for two days and was taken to the courthouse in handcuffs.
He received an order, which the NT Government has made mandatory (no discretion for the magistrate) to pay a $150 Victim Compensation Levy although there was no victim.
These were the facts put before Magistrate Daynor Trigg (pictured):-
Gaydon Mulbunka was under an order to report to the Alice Springs police station daily.
There was no evidence that he had failed to do so except for one day, when the following took place: He went to Santa Teresa with his aunt on a day trip, intending to call in at the Alice Springs police station upon return.
Unexpectedly his aunt left without him. Mulbunka caught a lift back the next day, presented himself at the police station and explained his absence the day before by saying: “My aunt dumped me.”
Rather than using his discretion to accept that plausible explanation, acknowledging Mulbunka’s sense of responsibility clearly shown by his turning up as soon as he could, and sending him on his way, Mulbunka was arrested and charged with breach of bail.
Unsurprisingly, Mr Trigg imposed no conviction and dismissed the charge without penalty after making the following remarks: “Reporting conditions are normally in place to avoid flight risk, or for people unlikely to remember” to attend court.
They are also imposed to avoid that people on bail “flee or move around so they can’t be found. The defendant does not appear to fit into those categories.
“He failed to report and reported the next day and was then arrested.
“So, he was doing the right thing. If he hadn’t reported and done nothing about it, and had to be arrested some weeks later, then it would be more serious.”
UPDATE Wed 7.40pm:
Jamie Chalker, Regional Operations Service, responded:-
Police bail is considered once a person has been charged with an offence.
Police actively enforce bail to reduce crime and this has proved effective time and again.
People given the liberty of bail need to ensure that they make adequate efforts to comply with the conditions of their bail.
By ERWIN CHLANDA