Report #5. Posted 6:45pm, July 24. See earlier reports below.
Basil Jurrah, alleged victim of an assault causing serious harm, with which Liam Jurrah and his co-accused are charged, in his evidence today mostly stuck to his guns that he had no intention of fighting at Little Sisters camp, and was unarmed.
However cracks appeared when the trouble underlying the on-going feuds amongst the Warlpiri families of Yuendumu was mentioned.
He went to Little Sisters for "smoke and grog", Basil Jurrah told the court. He denied getting weapons before he went.
Was it a lie that he had a machete in his hand, asked Jon Tippett QC, representing Liam Jurrah, in cross-examination this afternoon. Yes, said Basil Jurrah, who is at present in custody.
He agreed a fight took place and that he had seen Liam Jurrah and his co-accused Christopher Walker at Little Sisters, but to the proposition that he tried to fight Liam Jurrah, he said "I had no weapon".
However final witness for the day, Douglas Watson, said Basil Jurrah was armed with a nulla nulla when he went to Little Sisters along with five cars full of other people armed and intending to fight. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Report # 4. Posted 2:30pm, July 24. See earlier reports below.
As the court adjourned for lunch on the second day of the committal hearing of charges against star footballer Liam Jurrah and two others, cross-examination had begun of Basil Jurrah, the alleged victim of their assault causing serious harm charge.
Judging by their demeanour, this testimony is of critical interest to the defendants. Liam Jurrah, for the first time, was leaning back in his chair, craning to see the witness and intently listening to his answers. His co-accused Josiah Fry did the same. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Photos: Top – The grassy knoll opposite the courthouse, where yesterday an angry crowd had gathered, was a scene of peace and quiet this morning. Middle: Liam Jurrah. Below: Interstate camera crews from the three commercial TV networks had a quieter day until tensions between feuding Warlpiri familes built this afternoon.
Report # 3. Posted 4:40pm, July 23. See earlier reports below.
The court heard today from two witnesses, Allan Collins and Esau Marshall. Their evidence in chief had been tendered in writing. Cross-examination by Mr Tippett went to two matters in particular: one, that they had been drinking – "half shot" as opposed to "full drunk", they both said; two, that it was dark at Little Sisters Town Camp where the critical events unfolded.
Both witnesses put Liam Jurrah and Christopher Walker, whose nickname is "Mini Me", on the scene as perpetrators in the attack on Basil Jurrah, together with a third person.
Mr Marshall, questioned by prosecutor Steve Robson in order to "rehabilitate" his evidence after cross-examination, said he had seen Basil Jurrah lying on the ground; Liam Jurrah was "hitting him" with a machete, and Christopher Walker had an axe and "was pounding it on Basil", on his legs and his head. KIERAN FINNANE reports. Photos: An angry crowd opposite the courthouse kept in check by a large contingent of police. At left: One of the accused, Josiah Fry.
Report # 2. Posted 2:10pm, July 23. See earlier report below.
An angry crowd gathered outside the Alice Springs Courthouse as the committal hearing of charges against Liam Jurrah, Christopher Walker and Josiah Fry got underway.
Feuding Warlpiri families were shouting and raising their fists..
But prominent Yuendumu elder Harry Nelson (at right) was in the crowd, appealing for calm, saying they were not there for payback but to support their family member, Liam.
In the lobby of the courthouse, Mr Jurrah was happy to see family members, men and women, exchanging hugs and smiles. Outside the phalanx of media were waiting for him to come out.
A large detail of police moved in to calm the crowd.
In the courtroom, the less exciting matter of establishing the facts had begun. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
A smartly dressed but worried looking Liam Jurrah (right) arrived out the front of the Alice Springs Courthouse this morning, to a waiting crowd of cameramen, photographers and reporters.
The star footballer, from Yuendumu and now playing for the Melbourne Football Club, stands accused (together with two others) of unlawfully causing serious harm, going armed with an offensive weapon at night and four counts of aggravated assault.
It was something of an anti-climax when the prosecution told Magistrate David Bamber that they were not ready to proceed immediately. A number of witnesses are coming in from remote communities, chiefly Nyirrpi, and have not yet arrived, Mr Bamber was told.
A couple live in town and the case may be able to start with their evidence shortly. KIERAN FINNANE reports.Photo at top: Jurrah defence team Jon Tippett QC (with sunglasses) and John McBride confronted by media outside the court.
Utopia artist Margaret Loy Pula has won the 2012 Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, it was announced today. Her painting Anatye (Bush Potato), acrylic on linen, was chosen from 98 finalist entries for the $50,000 prize. The exhibition of finalist opens tomorrow at the South Australian Museum. The artist will have a solo show at Muk Muk Fine Art in Alice Springs in September.
Pamela Lofts (August 9, 1949 – July 4, 2012) left behind important legacies in the fields of visual arts and children's literature. Her ideas and vision reached beyond the Centre but for our readers it is her work in Alice Springs and the desert that is of particular interest and where, apart from her well-loved person, her loss will be greatly felt.
Our archive is not comprehensive but it does trace some of the lines of her legacy – her role as initiator and founding coordinator of Watch This Space (which endures to this day), her achievements as a children's book illustrator and her career as an exhibiting artist (from 1992 held 27 solo shows across Australia, and was represented in almost 70 group exhibitions in Australia and internationally). We reinstate excerpts and images from the archive here in her memory.
It is remarkable how little comment there has been to mark the recent expiry of the 20 year moratorium that had prevented the construction of a flood mitigation dam on the Todd River north of Alice Springs, says letter-writer ALEX NELSON. He summarises what is known about the town's susceptibility to flooding and notes that the Imparja headquarters (pictured above) would be inundated by more than a metre of water above ground level in a 100 year flood. The Civic Centre and the Alice Springs Public Library are equally at risk.
An Alice Springs friend visiting Adelaide recently sent this photo which she captioned "Gutter dreaming" – her regret being the lost opportunities to green our town's public spaces by harvesting rainwater.
This is relevant to the debate in Town Council this week about the pros and cons of concreting our street infrastructure, which has developed apace in recent years. Mayor Damien Ryan expressed his unhappiness at the prospect of another concrete roundabout, this time likely to be at the intersection of Undoolya Road and Sturt Terrace (see separate story). Council's Director of Technical Services, Greg Buxton, defended the approach on the basis of deterioration to road surfaces caused by watering plantings.
But it doesn't have to be like that, explains Mike Gillam, who on his commercial property in Hele Crescent uses an approved water-harvesting and retention system to cultivate a desert garden. The Alice Springs News Online asked Mr Gillam to explain what is going on in the Adelaide photo.
It's about heavier not fairer punishments and it does not deter offenders, they say.
Mandatory sentencing is strongly associated with the dying phase of the last Country Liberal Government. In many ways Terry Mills leads a different CLP into this election campaign, but it seems the leopard can't lose this particular spot – a 'lock 'em up reflex.
Earlier this month, responding to concern over attacks on taxi drivers Mr Mills announced what looks to be a one strike mandatory sentencing policy for assaults on anyone serving the public, not only taxi drivers but including "bus drivers, public servants, bank tellers, retail and hospitality workers".
An assault on this broad category of victim – including, for example, bouncers at night clubs – will be defined as "aggravated" and attract a minimum sentence of three months. This beefs up the party's existing two strike policy statement (see their website) for assault: as a second offence, any assault will attract a minimum of one month; an aggravated assault, a minimum of three months; and causing serious harm, a minimum of one year.
The core problem with this approach – whether to property crime as in the old CLP regime or violent offending – lies with its failure to take account of an almost infinite variety of circumstances and human responses to them.
KIERAN FINNANE discusses the issues with Russell Goldflam, President of the Criminal Lawyers Association of the NT .
The West MacDonnell Ranges national park, which belonged to all of us, which for many of us underpin our livelihood, and for quite a few of us are the very reason why we're here, will today pass into the ownership of a minority. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.