Grafton Court House
Grafton Court House

No bail for man who has broken AVOs nine times

A MAN who has contravened domestic violence orders nine times and served a number of jail terms from those charges has been refused bail.

James Austin, 32, from Iluka, appeared in Grafton Local Court yesterday charged with contravening an AVO, attempting to pervert the course of justice, two counts of interfering with witnesses and threatening a person with intent to influence a witness.

The prosecution said he was also on bail for one charge of contravening an AVO at the time of the latest offences.

The prosecutor, on reading the charges, said they were so serious she would refer them to the Department of Public Prosecutions and requested a two-week adjournment for that purpose.

The charges required the accused show cause why he should be released on bail.

Defence solicitor Anne Aleece Johnston said her client fulfilled a number of show cause conditions.

Ms Johnston said Austin’s custody was unnecessarily onerous, there were likely to be significant delays bringing his case to trial and he had mental health issues.

She said the effect of these elements was her client was kept in protective custody which allowed him only two hours free time a day out of his cell.

She said he had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder after he saw a prisoner stabbed while he served a sentence at Park Lea Jail.

On discovering his mental condition other prisoners had bullied him and this issue had resurfaced at Grafton jail.

The prosecution cast doubt on the protective custody claim.

She said the only evidence was a statement from the bar table.

Magistrate Kathy Crittenden said there were elements in the defence arguments which showed cause for Austin to be released on bail.

“The referral of the case to the DPP is likely to add to these delays,” she said.

“Onerous custodial conditions and mental health issues are also reasons for showing cause.

“It may be arguable that cause has been shown, even noting there’s no evidence before me of the accused being in protective custody.”

But the magistrate said the show cause provisions were separate from other bail considerations, which included protection of the victim, the likelihood of further offending and the protection of witness, all of which were of concern to her, based on the charges.

“The charges against the accused are extremely serious and if proved, there is no doubt a custodial sentence would be imposed,” the magistrate said.

Although she refused bail, at this hearing, she has not ruled it out.

She adjourned the case until December 16, where she said she would be prepared to hear more evidence for Austin’s release.