More controversy for Judge Sarah Bradley as freed rapist allegedly attacks same victim again
A controversial judge is in the firing line again after an accused rapist was set free and allegedly raped and stabbed the same woman.
Judge Sarah Bradley refused to adjourn the man's trial for a night after his alleged victim left court in the middle of giving
evidence and said she couldn't go on.
It was the third time a trial had collapsed because the woman could not complete her testimony.
The woman, an indigenous special witness, was allegedly stabbed then raped and sodomised at knifepoint.
Prosecutors asked for an overnight adjournment or to call other witnesses while they sought to bring the woman back to court
to continue testifying, but Judge Bradley refused.
The charges were withdrawn and the accused rapist was freed from custody.
Two days later police claim he allegedly tortured and raped the woman in an attack in which she was again stabbed multiple times.
It comes just days after an apparent crackdown on dangerous sex offenders, with the announcement Attorney-General Jarrod
Bleijie will be granted unprecedented powers to keep the "worst of the worst" in jail indefinitely.
Judge Bradley was previously at the centre of an international outcry when nine males escaped imprisonment despite
admitting to the rape of a 10-year-old girl in Aurukun.
Judge Bradley did not impose jail time because the prosecution did not ask for sentences for any of the men.
The case was successfully appealed and five of the nine men were jailed or put in juvenile detention and three
were given probation.
In the latest case, the judge decided there was no prospect of the woman returning to give evidence the next morning.
"Don't stay around Mount Isa because you're more likely to get into trouble here,'' Judge Bradley told the man.
"But that's the end of all matters before the courts in Queensland, so you're free to go now but stay away from (the woman)
and don't break the law again.''
It was the third trial over the rape and assault after two previous trials had been aborted this year.
In the first trial the woman had trouble giving evidence after being asked to testify without a screen to shield her from the accused.
In that instance the jury told the presiding judge that they had seen the accused making facial gestures from the dock at the woman.
It is believed the second trial was abandoned after the woman again had trouble testifying.
The Courier-Mail obtained a transcript of the third trial, held in the District Court in Mount Isa.
The transcript shows that after detailing some of the alleged attack to the court the woman left the court and said she
could not go on.
She had been given repeated breaks by Judge Bradley, had a barrier in court to prevent the accused from seeing her and had
a support person outside.
However Crown prosecutor Skye Jerome told the court the woman did not want to come back but maintained she had told the
truth and was not retracting her evidence.
The woman claimed that she received a threatening phone call from the accused's brother earlier in the year, Ms Jerome
told the court.
The court heard the woman also claimed that as part of her culture she would be held responsible if the accused was hurt
in prison, and she feared she would be dumped in a hole in the ground she had seen that would be filled with boiling water.
After consulting with a senior officer, Ms Jerome asked for the woman's evidence to be stood down temporarily to allow her
to call other witnesses.
"The reason why I still question whether she truly does not want to proceed is because she came to the courthouse and
conferred with me on Monday. She's turned up today to give evidence,'' Ms Jerome said.
Judge Bradley replied that it seemed ``you're really delaying the inevitable''.
"It's my assessment that she does understand the consequences of not coming back and not answering questions,'' Judge Bradley said.
Defence barrister Claire McKinnon ``strongly opposed'' the application to interpose witnesses.
"Her evidence, if allowed to continue, will now be given in a piecemeal way,'' Ms McKinnon said.
"By virtue of the fact that she's left, it's clear that she wants nothing to do with this proceeding.''
Judge Bradley ruled it would be unfair to interpose witnesses, prompting Ms Jerome to ask for an overnight adjournment,
which was also declined.
"There's really nothing that gives me any glimmer of hope that the complainant is going to be more amenable to giving evidence
tomorrow morning than she is right now,'' Judge Bradley said.
James Cook University adjunct professor and indigenous activist Gracelyn Smallwood called for an examination of the handling of the case.
"There's got to be a review. The system failed,'' she said.
Townsville Sexual Assault Service co-ordinator Cathy Crawford said the case highlighted how hard it was for women to give
evidence in court about attacks, and the lack of support in Queensland.
"What we do lack is a system in Queensland that ensures a woman is supported from the day she walkes in and says `I was sexually
assaulted' to the end,'' Ms Crawford said.
"There are limited sexual assault services especially in remote regions. There is not a stand-alone sexual assault service in
Mount Isa that I'm aware of.''
The man - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - is back in custody on new charges of torture and rape over the latest
attack and has been recharged with the previous rape and assault offences.
He will appear in the Mount Isa Magistrates Court at a later date.
Courier Mail (18-10-2013)