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Pair launch constitutional challenge

Blame for the imprisonment of a man for more than two years as he awaited trial on a drugs charge does not lie with the Crown alone, a lawyer said yesterday.

Tanaya Tucker, who appeared for the defendants, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney-General, told the Supreme Court that the imprisonment of Dennis Robinson was in part because of delays caused by his lawyer and the defence counsel for his co-accused, Rebecca Wallington.

Ms Tucker said that over a 24-month period there had been 14 adjournments to the trial. She added that several of the adjournments were as a result of actions taken by lawyers for Mr Robinson and Ms Wallington and that other delays were because of the court's “administrative process”.

Ms Tucker said: “For this reason, we submit that it is not possible to say that there was a significant delay, which can be said to be both unreasonable and the responsibility of the Crown.”

She was speaking at the second day of a constitutional challenge launched by Mr Robinson and Ms Wallington.

The civil application asks the court to rule that the proceedings against Mr Robinson and Ms Wallington are unconstitutional and for the case to be dismissed. The two were arrested on November 15, 2016 and charged with possession of 418.7 grams of cannabis with intent to supply.

Ms Wallington was also charged with possession of 4.93 grams of cannabis — an amount that has since been decriminalised by law. She denied both charges and was released on bail. Ms Wallington is represented by Victoria Greening.

Mr Robinson pleaded not guilty to the charge in February 2017 and the pair's trial started in May 2018.

But magistrate Archibald Warner, after the conclusion of the trial last October, announced that he had a conflict of interest and was forced to excuse himself, which meant no verdict was delivered. A new trial date of January 29 was scheduled. The constitutional application against the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney-General was filed on January 28.

Mark Pettingill, who represents Mr Robinson, agreed that “part, not the majority” of the delay was caused by the defence. But he said: “The point is this: none of it is Mr Robinson's fault.”

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Published May 23, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 23, 2019 at 7:53 am)

Pair launch constitutional challenge

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