An Indigenous man who spent more than 100 days in prison has been released on bail after a Darwin court heard CCTV footage shows he is not responsible for an assault he was charged over.
Police and prosecutors had both denied the footage existed, prompting the man’s lawyer, Patrick McNally, to subpoena a copy from the casino.
Zarak Bolga, 44, was charged with aggravated assault and breaching a domestic violence order and then jailed on August 25 after his partner was assaulted outside Darwin’s Mindil Beach Casino.
At a bail hearing on Thursday, Mr McNally tendered CCTV to the Darwin Local Court that he says shows an unidentified woman carried out the attack.
But in a November 23 email read to the court, prosecutor Lee Campbell told Mr McNally the incident was not captured on camera.
“There is no casino CCTV available. Their CCTV does not cover the area outside the casino and they wipe their footage every two weeks,” the email read.
The court heard there had been two previous court orders, issued by Judge Greg Macdonald and Chief Judge Elizabeth Morris, compelling police to produce the footage.
“Numerous attempts were made to get the police to, I say, do their job and obtain this material — including orders by Judge Macdonald — which haven’t been complied with, and further orders by Her Honour the Chief Judge as well,” Mr McNally said.
“This is a matter where orders of the court have not been complied with and there’s been attempts made by members of the police to, I say, defy orders of the court,” Mr McNally said.
Constable summonsed to court
The court heard Mr Bolga went to Royal Darwin Hospital with the victim after the incident and was later arrested.
He initially applied for bail in August but was refused.
Before CCTV of the assault was played to the court, Local Court Judge Michael Carey asked: “Does this footage show females attacking the victim?”
“It does, Your Honour,” Mr McNally replied.
The court also heard that during his arrest, Mr Bolga told police: “I didn’t do it. Get the CCTV at the casino; it’ll show what happened”.
Mr McNally requested the police officer in charge of the investigation, Constable Jessica Speckman, be summoned to the court on Monday to “explain how this matter has come so far, such that this man has been remanded since the 25th of August”.
“I have very, very serious issues with the conduct of the investigation and the prosecution in this matter,” Mr McNally said.
“The question is: is [Constable Speckman] lazy and did she not ask [for CCTV], or is she lying?”
Judge Carey suggested Constable Speckman may have been told by staff members at the casino that the CCTV did not exist.
Prosecutors did not speak at Mr Bolga’s bail hearing on Thursday.
“Looks like the Crown case is in very serious trouble,” Judge Carey said.
Constable Speckman was ordered to attend court to give evidence.
The case will return to court on Monday, December 7.