FRIENDLY BAY ISLANDER AND THE FENNELL CASE
• Junk Mail deliverer Steven Fennell (Photo Courier Mail)
The Friendly Bay Islander attended the Committal Hearing of Steven John Fennell, but we were unable to report it first hand.
The hearing started on Monday, December 15, at 9am in the Brisbane Magistrate's Court.
A number of island residents were on hand, mostly as witnesses.
Prior to the hearing starting, after it was earlier directed to Court 38, we sat down in the gallery with representatives of most of the major news sources including the Courier Mail, ABC, Channel 7, 9 and 10 and SBS.
Fennell was led into the secure and heavily glassed defendants' area several minutes prior to the hearing getting under way.
It was the first time we had seen hims since the day he was arrested on March 14, 2013, when we photographed him, handcuffed, in a police vehicle on the Macleay Island waterfront.
He looked greyer and paunchier and was wearing a long-sleeved shirt and slacks. He carried a pen and pad.
Fennell clearly noticed Gerard Thompson of the Friendly Bay Islander seated in the gallery.
He signalled to his defence team and they had a conference.
His defence team, lawyer Michael Gatenby and barrister Adrian Donaldson, then summoned the prosecution team and they left the court for a few minutes.
On return, the prosecution team, headed by Crown prosecutor James Marxson, approached Gerard Thompson and asked for a meeting outside.
They explained that Fennell had objected to Gerard Thompson being in the court.
Gerard Thompson explained: "They asked that I consider retiring from the hearing.
"They explained that there was a possibility that I could be called as a witness at a later date, although this had never been declared to me previously.
"'We don't know exactly how the case will run, but we have to be prepared' they told me.
"They said my presence could jeopardise their case, particularly if I was to be called as a future witness."
The prosecutors said I did not have to comply with their request.
"I was certainly not going to dismiss myself on the request from Fennell.
"However, I did not wish to do anything that could be detrimental to the prosecution's case.
"I agreed to their request and left the court." Gerard Thompson said.
This was after receiving assurances and support from all the other media that they would provide their reports for use by The Friendly Bay Islander.
Fennell made an audible comment as The Friendly Bay Islander representative left the courtroom.
He was heard to say: "He will be on the witness list."
The Friendly Bay Islander is particularly thankful to Kate Kyriacou and Brooke Baskin of the Brisbane Courier Mail, Darren Curtis of Nine News Brisbane, Damien Hansen of Seven News Brisbane, and Leonie Mellor of the ABC.