News State NT News Former NT police commissioner John McRoberts refused bail following conviction

Former NT police commissioner John McRoberts refused bail following conviction

John McRoberts, right, has been found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Photo: ABC News
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Former Northern Territory police commissioner John McRoberts has been refused bail ahead of an appeal against his conviction for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

A jury found McRoberts guilty of the offence last month and he was sentenced to three years in prison, to be suspended after 12 months.

The jury found McRoberts tried to “frustrate” or “deflect” a travel agent fraud investigation, known as Operation Subutai, between May and November 2014.

McRoberts had been in a sexual relationship with the investigation’s main target, former travel agent and NT Crime Stoppers chairwoman Xana Kamitsis.

In his notice of appeal, McRoberts argued Acting Justice Dean Mildren made several errors of law during the trial and that the conviction should be quashed.

Justice Stephen Southwood had to decide if there were “exceptional circumstances” under the NT Bail Act for releasing McRoberts.

He looked at the merits of McRoberts’ appeal case and the fairness of McRoberts remaining in custody for around four months until a potential appeal hearing in October.

“Hardship must be real hardship. In my opinion there is no such hardship in the present case,” Justice Southwood said.

“It undermines the public interest in having convicted persons serve their sentences as soon as practicable.

“The criminal justice system is an important part of the community fabric.”

Appeal case must be ‘of real substance’

Justice Southwood said public confidence in the administration of justice “may well be weakened” if too many convicted criminals were released in that manner.

He said it was not sufficient to show “a merely arguable ground of appeal, or even one which has a reasonable prospect of success”, but rather the appeal case should be “of real substance”.

During the bail application, McRoberts’ lawyer Anthony Elliot argued the prosecution “moved the goal posts” by changing the case initially presented to the jury.

“When they opened the case they didn’t say enough to say that this was a case about delay and the risk of losing evidence,” he said.

Crown prosecutor Mary Chalmers told the judge the merits of McRoberts’ appeal were weak and the circumstances were not exceptional enough to grant bail.

“We’re not anywhere near miscarriage of justice in my submission,” she said.