His family and friends clapped and cheered in the court when Liam Jurrah was found not guilty by unanimous verdict this afternoon just before 2pm, but the man himself only smiled quietly. As he left the dock where he has sat for almost two weeks, he hugged his counsel Jon Tippett QC.
Outside he was immediately surrounded by media and, with a beaming Mr Tippett by his side, he calmly fielded questions. KIERAN FINNANE reports. Video by ERWIN CHLANDA.
For links to our complete coverage of the trial, see FULL STORY, below the video.
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.
If the new town council's Gang of Four – Steve Brown, Eli Melky, Dave Douglas and Geoff Booth – act as block they will need an extra vote to achieve a majority and that vote is most likely to come from Liz Martin (at left) or Brendan Heenan (above).
Both were re-elected, clearly are of a similar mindset to the Four on many issues, and also operate businesses.
In fact they are top performers in the vital yet currently seriously depressed tourism industry: Councillor (Cr) Martin runs the National Road Transport Hall of Fame. While last year saw the shutters going down for many businesses in the CBD, Cr Martin says the Hall had its best year ever. She's just signed a $1m deal to build a display hall for Mack and Volvo trucks, rivaling the existing Kenworth complex. And Cr Heenan's MacDonnell Range Tourist Park is like a small, very well run town that wins Brolgas year after year.
At least one council project, spending the $5m NT Government grant for rejigging the CBD, is facing delays not of council making: no-one knows where many of the underground water, electricity and sewage mains are located, so there's no start date in sight for any digging. How could the new council break though on that front and what else can we expect from the holders of the balance of power in the 12th Town Council? ERWIN CHLANDA talked with them over the Easter weekend.
Coming to this place has called up another for young artist and musician Claire Wieland. It's not that she isn't seeing and listening to this one – her Emu series and recording of local voices and songs are charming testimony that she is. But time spent in the western desert, volunteering in the women's centre at Kintore, and then here in town where she has rented a studio at Watch This Space and mounted an exhibition in its gallery, have got her thinking about family and home. The sense of those words for her stretches across the globe, to the native Switzerland of her father. She was born in Australia but the Swiss-German connection is strong, not so much through her direct experience as she has only been there a few times, and only once in young adulthood. It's more a matter of cultural osmosis, for instance, through the kind of objects that were around her as she grew up. Pictured: Above –her 'family' of hand-made objects. KIERAN FINNANE reviews.