Court generic, Lady Justice statue
Court generic, Lady Justice statue

Magistrate warns against more delays in double murder case

A MAGISTRATE warned both prosecution and defence lawyers appearing in a double murder case with a "pattern of lengthy delays" against further adjournments when the case was mentioned in Grafton Local Court on Tuesday.

James Kevin Cook, 36, has been charged with a number of offences including two counts of murder, reckless grievous bodily harm, discharging a firearm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug.

Mr Cook, who did not appear in court and was represented by his lawyer Ms Pankhurst, is yet to enter a plea to the charges.

In court on Monday the DPP prosecutor Mr Webb said a case conference had been conducted earlier this month and asked for an adjournment for a further conference to be held later this month before returning to court on December 8 for a final charge certificate to be tendered.

Magistrate Kathy Crittenden noted the alleged offences took place in December 2018, and that Mr Cook had been arrested and charged in July last year.

Ms Crittenden said Mr Cook had been bail refused and remanded in custody since that date.

"Mr Cook has spent more than a year in custody which is a grave concern to the court," she said.

The magistrate said relevant legislation indicated that if a charge certificate had not been finalised within six months of the initial charge the matter could be thrown out. While Ms Crittenden said it was ultimately in the interest of justice for the matter to continue, she warned both parties against any further delays in the necessary paperwork.

"This matter already has a pattern of lengthy delays," she said.

Police allege on the night of Sunday, December 9, 2018 there was a disagreement between Mr Cook and two other men before two vehicles were seen driving erratically on the Pacific Highway around 20km south of Grafton.

Mr Cook is accused of using a firearm and his Holden Commodore to force a silver Mitsubishi Lancer off the roadway which crashed through a fence, rolled, then caught fire.

Daniel Elliott, 42, a Nomads gang member from Grafton, and his associate, 29-year-old Jared Ward from Tucabia, died at the scene and a 39-year-old woman, who was also in the vehicle, had to be airlifted to the Gold Coast.

Following investigations by the strike force, Mr Cook was arrested and charged with murder in July last year where a loaded firearm was allegedly found and seized.

Police allege that during the investigations of the two deaths, strike force investigators identified a significant drug supply syndicate in the Grafton and South Grafton areas.

The matter was adjourned to Grafton Local Court on December 8.

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