Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Update: Court Allows Accused Sex Predator to be Named

BY IAN CROUCH AND LAUREN FREEMANTLE

The non-publication order has been lifted on the name of a man accused of sexually assaulting and kidnapping an 11-year-old girl at Adamstown Heights.

Brett David Hill faced Newcastle Local Court today via video link on multiple charges relating to the alleged June 12 attack on the girl at Hudson Park and surrounding bushland.

The 47-year-old was dressed in a dark green prison jumper and appeared agitated as he heard his case mentioned, looking around the room and rarely looking at the camera. He wasn't required to say anything and no plea was entered.

His Legal Aid solicitor, Robert Hussey sought to have the non-publication order extended until his client's next court appearance in August for his personal safety while in custody. Mr Hussey told the court his client was sharing a cell in protective custody with a schizophrenic and there was a TV and a kettle with boiling water along with razor blades in the cell, while all inmates had TVs in their cells.

Robert Hussey also said his client heard either a prison guard or another inmate at the metropolitan prison where he's being held say, "This is the bloke from Newcastle, you should watch yourself." Mr Hussey also noted the "saturation coverage" and the level of anger in the community which the case had already generated, saying his client was entitled to the presumption of innocence.

In opposing the application, Senior Sergeant Witherspoon for the DPP said the public was entitled to know the details of the accused which may encourage other alleged victims to come forward, saying one complainant had already made themselves known to police.

In lifting the non-publication order on Mr Hill's name, Magistrate Robert Stone cited the principle of open justice, but directed the accused be held in protective custody in a single cell. The magistrate further directed that the non-publication order on the identity of the alleged victim remain in place.

Senior Sergeant Witherspoon also told the court preliminary results on DNA were received this morning and prosecutors were awaiting final confirmation, however, their case no longer relies on purely circumstantial evidence.

Brett Hill has been refused bail and will appear again via audio-visual link on Wednesday August 15.



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