For the first time this week some detail emerged about what allegedly happened at Ilpurla Outstation last year that led to Barry Abbott (pictured), former Senior Territorian of the Year, facing charges of aggravated assault and deprivation of liberty.
Mr Abbott and his four co-accused, all members of his family, pleaded not guilty to all charges in the Alice Springs Magistrates Court on Monday. Their hearing is set down for December but defence lawyer Russell Goldflam had asked for a hearing to deal with legal argument.
How could this happen without some factual context, Magistrate John Neill wanted to know. So the briefest outline of agreed facts was presented on Tuesday afternoon. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
The case against Barry Abbott (pictured), former Senior Territorian of the Year and longtime worker with young people caught up in the justice system, will now be heard by a magistrate, not by judge and jury.
A preliminary examination to see whether the case should proceed to the Supreme Court was scheduled to start today. At the penultimate moment the prosecution conceded, as the defence had pushed for all along, that it could remain in the Court of Summary Jurisdiction. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
MacDonnell Shire Council reinstated its leadership duo at the first meeting of the new council yesterday, returning Sid Anderson to the presidency, with Roxanne Kenny as his deputy.
Councillor Irene Nangala nominated Cr Anderson, seconded by Cr Lance Abbott. Both are from Luritja Pintubi Ward in the north-west of the shire, as is Cr Anderson. But Cr Richard Doolan from Rodinga Ward, at the eastern end, and Cr Barry Abbott from Ljirapinta Ward in the middle, both raised their hands to back his nomination. There was no dissent.
Taking his seat to chair the meeting, Cr Anderson thanked the councillors for "having confidence" in him, adding simply, "We'll work together."
It was a quiet victory for the shire leader (pictured at left in his habitual cap) who in his first term had to weather protracted media controversy over his past as well as an outcry over a proposed contract out-sourcing a shire function to a firm in India.
Discussion during the meeting showed councillors to be thinking beyond their own patch. In deciding on where to hold their meetings over the coming 12 months (yesterday's was in Alice Springs), Cr Barry Abbott said this should be discussed with the communities. Cr Anderson supported him as did Cr Kenny, saying she was keen to see council go to places "that might need us out there to talk to the people".
Cr Braydon Williams (Ljirapinta Ward) suggested Areyonga (also known as Utju), as they are experiencing "big problems". Everyone agreed, so the June meeting will be held there. A later meeting may be held at Imanpa where improvements are expected following the appointment of Joe Rawson, formerly a councillor, as shire services coordinator for the community.
Councillors also supported CEO Diane Hood's proposed shire-wide leadership program for young women aged 18 to 25 – "the hardest to engage" but the group representing "the greatest opportunity to close the gap". KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: The new MacDonnell Shire Council in the shire meeting room yesterday, from left, Marlene Abbott, Selina Kulitja, Irene Nangala, Greg Sharman, Roxanne Kenny (deputy president), Barry Abbott, Sid Anderson (president), Braydon Williams, Richard Doolan, Lance Abbott, Jacob Hoosan. The council still has one vacancy in the Rodinga Ward.
The hearing of charges against Barry Abbott, former NT Senior Australian of the Year, and four others was again put off today because the prosecution had still not received a full briefing from police.
There are aggravated assault charges against Mr Abbott, 67, and two counts of depriving a person of personal liberty.
He is best known for looking after young people in trouble with the justice system and particularly petrol sniffers on his outstation at Ilpurla. Over the decades he has helped rehabilitate hundreds of youths.
He was arrested last October after a youth ran away from the outstation and came to the attention of police in Alice Springs. Police subsequently removed a further six teenagers and another from a nearby community and placed them in FACS care.
Mr Abbott's co-accused – two younger men and two younger women – are facing multiple counts of deprivation of liberty as well as other charges. There are also aggravated assault charges against the men.
The matters had been listed for hearing on February 2 but postponed till today, again because the prosecution was not ready to proceed.
Magistrate David Bamber expressed some impatience from the bench, however as the missing prosecution material includes medical reports relating to the alleged victims of "serious harm", it was not possible for the defence to object to the adjournment. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Mr Abbott outside the Alice Springs courthouse today.