The trial for the death of a Yamatji mother from Geraldton will be held in Perth sometime next year, after Justice Jeremy Curthoys dismissed an application to the Supreme Court of Western Australia for the trial to be held in Geraldton.
The woman, whom her family have asked be referred to by her initials JC, died after she was shot by police in the Geraldton suburb of Karloo on September 17, 2019.
A Geraldton police officer, whose identity is under a suppression order, was charged with JC’s murder in February this year.
Defence lawyer Linda Black argued on Friday the trial should be held where the offence took place, noting that 61 of the 78 witnesses for the prosecution are in Geraldton.
The change of venue application was supported by an affidavit from the officer, expressing his desire for the trial to be heard in his hometown.
Black argued the officer, who has several young children, would be under extreme strain and scrutiny as a serving police officer charged with murder.
According to the defence, it was not possible for the man’s family to accompany him to Perth for the trial.
Black said the accused’s wellbeing and capacity to give evidence and instruct his lawyers would be reduced if he were away from the support of family and friends.
Justice Curthoys dismissed the application, saying the distance was a lack of convenience rather than a real barrier for witnesses, and that it is a matter for the prosecution to enable their witnesses to attend.
Justice Curthoys acknowledged the stress the officer would be under but noted he was currently on bail.
“It is a regrettable feature of being on trial that your freedom is restricted,” Justice Curthoys said.
Speaking after the hearing, JC’s sister Bernadette Clarke said the outcome was a relief.
“I just can’t wait for the trial to come and get out of the way. I’m just happy that it’s down here,” Clarke said.
JC’s family believe they now have a chance at justice.
“It’s a country town, Geraldton, I don’t see how we could get justice in the right manner. Everything’s down here for a reason. If it’s hard to get down here, well so be it—we’d rather it was here as a family,” Clarke said.
By Sarah Smit