Gerard Baden-Clay
Gerard Baden-Clay

Court rules counsellor must testify at Baden-Clay hearing

A FAMILY counsellor will be required to give evidence at the murder trial of Gerard Baden-Clay next year.

Mr Baden-Clay was charged in June 2012 with the murder of his wife Alison Baden-Clay.

Mrs Baden-Clay was reported missing on April 20, 2012, and her body was located 10 days later on the banks on Kholo Creek.

Counsellor Carmel Ritchie had previously argued conversations she had with Mr and Mrs Baden-Clay were confidential.

In a hearing earlier this year, the court was told Ms Ritchie spoke with Mrs Baden-Clay on March 27, 2012, and with Mr and Mrs Baden-Clay separately on April 16, 2012.

During the hearing Relationships Australia's barrister George Kalimnios argued the Family Law Act prohibited Ms Ritchie giving evidence.

However, Supreme Court Judge James Douglas ruled Ms Ritchie will be required to give evidence at a pre-trial hearing early next year.

The ruling means Ms Ritchie can be called as a witness during the trial, which has been set down for June next year.

However, Justice Douglas said in his written judgement both arguments were misconceived and there were no grounds to claim privilege.

"Even if such a privilege existed separate from the Act, the balance is decisively in favour of permitting access to the evidence for the purposes of Mr Baden-Clay's trial on the charge of murder," he said.

"My ruling is then that the counsellor is required to give evidence at the preliminary hearing including evidence of anything said or any admission made to her by the deceased Alison Baden-Clay or the defendant Gerard Baden-Clay in communications by them or either of them in family counselling."

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