Grafton Court House
Grafton Court House

Evidence from doctor hearsay: murder trial judge

A JUDGE has directed a Supreme Court jury to be cautious about handling some of the evidence from a Grafton doctor in the final stages of a murder trial in Grafton Court House.

Justice Geoffrey Bellew began his summing up yesterday in the trial of Shane Leslie Johnson, who is accused of murder following the 2010 death in custody of Grafton jail inmate Ian Klum.

Justice Bellew's first direction to the jury was to urge jurors to be cautious about some evidence given by a Grafton Base Hospital doctor who treated Mr Klum when he was first brought to the hospital in the early hours of June 10, 2010.

He said Dr Simnatas gave evidence Mr Klum used the words "I've been assaulted" to the doctor.

Justice Bellew said the jury needed to be cautious about this evidence of this nature had been shown to be unreliable.

He warned the evidence was hearsay, because the person who uttered the words was the deceased in the trial and could not be cross examined.

He said at the time he told the doctor this, he had been crying out for assistance and complaining of a bad headache.

The judges said under cross examination Dr Simnatas told the court he had difficulty getting a medical history from Mr Klum and he had not answered questions.

The judge also gave the jury directions on how to treat the evidence from the six expert witnesses at the trial.

He said experts were the only witnesses asked for their opinions because of their expertise in specific fields, but the jury should apply the same judgment to those opinions as it would to the evidence from other witnesses.

Earlier defence solicitor wound up his closing address to the jury, reminding them of elements of the evidence from forensic pathologist Dr Johann Duflous.

He pointed to elements of his evidence which he said confirmed the accused's version of events given in his record of interview.

He said Dr Duflous said injuries recorded on Mr Klum, including bruising to his torso and back and bruising to his lips were just as likely to have been caused during the treatment of Mr Klum as an assault in his cell.