‘Shoddy investigation’ by police derails rape trial
A TEENAGER will be forced to relive five years of alleged sexual abuse because cops botched the investigation.
The trial into the 19-year-old's stepfather was deemed a mistrial in the Southport District Court yesterday after it was discovered police did not pass on information that should have been presented to the court.
Lawyers believe the bungled investigation will force the girl to again give evidence to the court and undergo cross-examination when the case goes to trial.
The taxpayer will have to pay the accused rapist's trial costs and thousands more for another trial.
A middle-aged man, who cannot be named legally to protect the girl, has been charged with raping and maintaining a sexual relationship with his then-stepdaughter.
It is alleged the truck driver abused the girl for about five years, from 2011 to late 2015, while she was aged 11 to 15.
On Tuesday, the first day of trial, Crown prosecutor Michael Mitchell told the court the truckie touched the girl's breasts, bottom and genitalia and forced her to touch his genitalia, among other sexual acts.
When the trial resumed yesterday, Mr Mitchell and defence barrister Sarah Thompson told Judge Catherine Muir new information had come to light.
It was revealed the alleged victim had initial discussions with police and Bravehearts "which was not disclosed to the prosecution or defence", Mr Mitchell told the court.
Ms Thompson made an application for a mistrial, which was granted within minutes by Judge Muir, who appeared to let out a loud sigh.
She had to call the jury of six men and six women to tell them they were discharged.
Ms Thompson said it "has been a shoddy investigation" by police and the revelation meant her client was "at a distinct disadvantage".
Judge Muir agreed and said "it seems to me it has been a shoddy investigation".
She.had "no alternative but to dismiss the jury" and wanted an explanation, urging the prosecution to explore events leading to the mistrial.
Ms Thompson's instructing solicitor Michael Gatenby, of Gatenby Criminal Lawyers, told the Bulletin taxpayers would pay his client's trial costs because of the bungle.
"It's very disappointing, particularly for the client. He's got a mindset where this morning he had a belief the trial would be resolved and he'd have a verdict," he said.
"The expectation is it won't be on (the trial) for nine to 12 months."
Mr Gatenby said it was expected the alleged victim "would be further prerecorded" and it would be "the third time she's been placed in that position".
The delay in the case would "have to have an impact" at any sentence, he said.
Mr Gatenby said the mistrial was the second he knew of at Southport in as many months.
The case was adjourned until December 19 and the truckie was bailed.
A Queensland Police spokeswoman said it was believed the trial would resume in about two weeks, but would not comment further while the case was before the courts.