NSW Police have made an arrest at Bunnings in Byron Bay.
NSW Police have made an arrest at Bunnings in Byron Bay.

Lawyer mistakenly tells client not to come to court

A HEARING has been scheduled for a Far North Coast man who will defend charges that arose from a dramatic arrest outside a Byron Bay hardware store.

Kingscliff man Anthony Charles Finocchiaro, 45, from Kingscliff, had been required to appear before Byron Bay Local Court when his matter was mentioned on Monday.

But defence solicitor Steven Mercael incorrectly told his client he was not required to attend, the court heard.

Mr Finocchiaro was arrested in the carpark of Bunnings on Bayshore Drive shortly before 10am on July 16 this year.

Police will allege he had obtained two pistols illegally.

His lawyer was also absent, so Magistrate Karen Stafford asked for him to be dialled in to the courtroom.

When he appeared via phone, Mr Mercael told the court he was awaiting “a significant amount of surveillance material” from police.

He said there was a possibility the case could resolve “in a plea of some sort”.

Prosecutor sergeant Chris Martin said he was aware there had been “a discussion between the officer-in-charge and the defence” and confirmed some computers were yet to be analysed.

Ms Stafford stood the matter down briefly, ordering both men to provide more information before she could agree to adjourn the case.

But when it returned to court, Sgt Martin asked for a hearing date to be set.

Mr Mercael confirmed his client’s not guilty pleas to two charges of acquiring a pistol without a permit and Ms Stafford scheduled a hearing for April 6, 2021.

She agreed to suspend Mr Finocchiaro’s curfew to allow him to attend Service NSW on October 6 only, so he can apply for a business licence.

She told Mr Mercael to be cautious in the future before advising a client not to attend court.

“If you’re going to tell your client he doesn’t need to come to court … please phone the registry first,” Ms Stafford said.

“The registrar would have told you straight away that I directed he has to be here.

“Please pay a courtesy to the court.

“It’s very frustrating when we’re trying to address this COVID backlog.”