Judge rejects prejudice claim

A REQUEST that a magistrate disqualify himself from hearing a case was rejected at the Maclean Local Court yesterday.

Lawyer David Imlah said Magistrate David Heilpern should disqualify himself as he was prejudiced by material he was privy to in another case involving his client, Maclean identity John X Berlin.

Mr Imlah said his client believed as Mr Heilpern had heard a Section 32 application– to have charges dealt with under the Mental Health Act – he had formed an opinion of his client's character. Before rejecting the request, Mr Heilpern said the matter was listed as a fax, purporting to be from former NSW police commissioner Peter Ryan. It had been received at Grafton court and by the assistant to the Chief Justice of NSW.

The fax alleged inquiries Mr Ryan had made suggested Mr Heilpern had been “got at” by Coffs Harbour's police commander. Mr Heilpern said: “In other words, if you want to get rid of the beak who is sitting on your case, you write something outrageous and outlandish to do so and dip your toe in the water with another magistrate.”

Mr Berlin will next appear in Grafton Court on May 2.



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