A former managing director of the Njamal Mining company in Western Australia’s Pilbara is to stand trial in the mining town of Port Hedland on a charge of common assault in circumstances of aggravation or racial aggravation.

In the Joondalup Magistrate’s Court in Perth’s north today, Magistrate Gregory Benn transferred proceedings against Sharon Lee Westerman to the town, 1752km north of Perth, after hearing witnesses in the case were based there.

The case is now due to come up in the South Hedland Courthouse on June 8 for a trial allocation.

Ms Westerman is not required to appear in the court on that date and her lawyer can appear via an audio link-up from Perth.

The case had been scheduled to go to trial on June 18 in Joondalup, but Ms Westerman’s lawyers today asked Magistrate Benn to change that date so she could attend a memorial service for her son who was last year killed in a workplace accident.

Ms Westerman, now of the Perth suburb of Landsdale, did not appear in court today.

She is pleading not guilty to the assault charge.

Separate charges

As first reported by NIT last week, Ms Westerman is also to face trial in Perth in June on four unrelated charges of stealing as a servant.

Ms Westerman appeared in Perth Magistrates Court last Tuesday over the charges, which relate to a total amount of $14,106.

She has pleaded not guilty.

Chief Magistrate Steven Heath set the stealing case down for a two-day hearing on June 28 and 29.

He renewed Ms Westerman’s bail.

The stealing charges relate to four amounts of money allegedly stolen on separate occasions in 2015.

Njamal Mining Pty Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Njamal People’s Trust, which was set up in 2003 for the benefit of Indigenous people from the Njamal families in WA’s Pilbara and which reaps $4.5 million in mining royalties annually.

Ms Westerman was managing director of Njamal Mining from 2013 to August 2015.

She later became known as a champion of workplace safety in WA after her son Lee Buzzard, a diesel fitter at Rio Tinto’s Channar Mine east of Paraburdoo, was killed in a workplace incident.

Wendy Caccetta