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HomeIssue 35Zachary Rolfe: live-streaming to Yuendumu to be curtailed?

Zachary Rolfe: live-streaming to Yuendumu to be curtailed?


The Local Court in Alice Springs has heard from the prosecutor in the case against Zachary Rolfe – the police officer pleading not guilty to the charge of murder of Kumanjayi Walker on November 9 last year – an application to prevent live-streaming of the proceedings to Yuendumu.

The NT Courts administration has made arrangement for the live-streaming to occur in the multi-purpose room that is part of the Yuendumu Police Station.

The prosecution’s concern, echoed by defence, is with the potential contamination of witness evidence.

Philip Strickland SC said he is instructed that police are not confident of their powers in being able to exclude witnesses from the room. Normally in court, this is the province of the judge.

Up to 56 civilian witnesses, members of the community, could be called at trial. Around 10 are bound to be so.

It is important in particular, submitted Mr Strickland, that they are not exposed to evidence from IRT witnesses – the Incident Response Team, police officers present in the community at the time.

Judge John Birch said it is in the interest of justice for the live-stream to go ahead. He will make a ruling next Tuesday, the first day of the committal proceedings, about whether to suspend it during the IRT evidence.


Related reading:

Zachary Rolfe: medical opinion on potential scissor threat to officers relevant

Zachary Rolfe: What evidence will be relevant?


  1. Some people refuse to accept due process and outcomes, especially when they don’t get the outcome they want.
    If they live stream this, suggest send in armed troops and ambulances as there will be violence in the community.
    Who suggested this anyway?

  2. In these circumstances, it raises the question even more – why is this trial proceeding as trial by jury?
    This is an ideal situation to require trial by judge alone.
    In Victoria, legislation does not allow trial by judge alone. Does the NT have similar legislation?

  3. A trial by judge alone can be beneficial in certain circumstances.
    When a judge delivers the verdict, he or she must give reasons for the decision. Being informed of the reasons why a judge decided on a guilty verdict makes the process more transparent. It can show that the decision was made solely on an assessment of the evidence as opposed to a decision based on sympathy, prejudice or emotion.
    In cases involving a trial by jury, the jury deliberations are held behind closed doors in secret and the jury is not required to provide reasons for the basis of their decision. There is therefore no way of knowing whether the decision was made from a dispassionate and clinical assessment of the evidence.
    In complex cases it can also be difficult for jurors to comprehend certain issues. These cases might typically involve expert scientific evidence, or large amounts of forensic materials. In these cases, judges are better equipped to analyse the evidence and know what aspects of the evidence they should direct more attention to.
    Here are some views.

  4. @ Evelyne, the same reasons would be explained for a non-guilty verdict too. I’m sure you’re not pre-empting the outcome of the trial but one must consider a non-guilty result as well.

  5. @ Surprised! “If they live stream this, suggest send in armed troops and ambulances as there will be violence in the community.” Will be?
    From Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu: “Then all of us must be alert to that greatest of all limitations to wisdom: The Assumption.”
    Quite clearly you weren’t here in Yuendumu when almost the entire community took part in a sombre dignified peaceful march on our police station in November last year.
    The only violence that took place was some children chanting and the police station being decorated by red paint hand prints.

  6. @ Frank Baarda: Frank, assumption is defined as a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.
    The reality is that absolute proof is only ever evident after the fact. You yourself are assuming that I was not in Yuendumu in November.
    Using an unrelated topic so as not to be offensive, if it has been raining heavily all week and you wake up in the morning and look at the sky and the cloud cover is eight oktas, it would be fair to make the assumption that the rain will continue.
    We make assumptions every day based on many factors including but not limited to the information we have now, historical information and risk and many other factors.
    We know that humans generally have a pack mentality and when things don’t go their way, the pack very often turns sour.
    We actually assume or make judgments many times a day but it seems some are in denial about doing so.
    Making assumptions doesn’t limit ones ability to be wise, provided they can do so without bias and by keeping balance.
    In fact, making assumptions based on the screening all of the available data provides better outcomes.

  7. Decorated? Are you serious, surely you mean vandalised?
    We all know the symbolism of those handprints, Frank. Somehow you dignify that in the same way you seem to imply Dark Emu is factual.


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