Yamba-riot accused in court

A 16-YEAR-OLD boy who gave evidence at Maclean Local Court yesterday about the 2010 Valentine’s Day Yamba riot, admitted to being drunk at a party which could have influenced evidence in his statement.

He was one of six civilian witnesses who gave evidence at yesterday’s proceedings in the second three-week sitting of the trial.

The court also heard evidence from security guard Warren Powter, fire-fighters Mark Symons and Scott Withers, and two other boys aged 17 and 16.

Nine of the 10 men facing riot and other charges – Glen Ayres, Robert Harvey, Jesse Marsden, Craig McNeill, Dylan McNeill, Matthew Newell, Douglas Pearce, Jarrod Wilson, and Jay Winter – also appeared in court.

A handcuffed Douglas Pearce, who is facing charges on unrelated offences, was led into court by corrective services officers and placed in the dock.

Cameron Bell, solicitor for Courtney Walker, said his client was ill, experiencing cold shivers, and he expected to be back in court later in the week.

After being granted a section 32 application by Magistrate John Andrews to allow the 16-year-old to refresh his mind by reading through his statement, the boy struggled to recall details he had just read.

This prompted police prosecutor Bob Hanzic to apply for the boy’s evidence to be dismissed, as he was an unfavourable witness under section 38 (1b).

Debate between Mr Hanzic and defence barristers ensued over the boy’s validity as a witness.

Magistrate Andrews allowed the boy to continue giving evidence.

The boy told the court he went to the party where the riot occurred with friends, and drank a six-pack of beer, which he found in bushes near the party, in a shed.

Later that night the boy said he saw Craig McNeill talking to two police officers whose vehicle was parked outside the shed.

A couple of minutes later he said he saw a group of about 20 people, who he couldn’t identify, running around throwing bottles and pavers at the police vehicle.

The boy then said he saw the police car alight and another car parked next to it subsequently catch fire.

Magistrate Andrews granted the boy, who was 15 when he drank the beer at the party, exemption from prosecution under section 128.

Under cross examination by defence barrister Peter O’Connor, the boy said due to the alcohol he consumed he could have made mistakes in his statement.

The boy also back-flipped on evidence he gave that he saw Craig McNeill carry a jerry can into a crowd of people.

“Was a jerry can suggested by you to police when you gave the statement,” Mr O’Connor asked.

“Yeah,” he replied.

The court was told video footage taken from a Wooli police vehicle on the night, which was subpoenaed by defence solicitor for Dylan McNeill, Mark Spagnolo, had been erased by police.

The trial continues today at Maclean court.

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