Magistrate shuts media out of teen’s murder case

 

Media have been barred from covering the court case of the teen driver charged over the Australia Day crash that killed Kate Leadbetter, Matt Field and their unborn son Miles at Alexandra Hills.

Seven media outlets, including The Courier-Mail, had applied to the Children's Court of Queensland to be allowed to cover today's mention of the 17-year-old who is charged with more than a dozen offences including two counts of murder.

Under Queensland legislation, media can be allowed by a magistrate to cover closed court matters if the court decides their presence will not be prejudicial to the interests of the child.

The court had previously granted permission for media to be allowed to report the first mention of the teen's case after his arrest in late January.

At the time, prosecutors did not oppose the application but the teen's defence lawyer did.

However today, both defence lawyer Jacilynn Young and Prosecutor Carolyn McKeon opposed the applications by journalists.

A Waterford West teen has been charged with two counts of murder over the deaths Kate Leadbetter, Matt Field and their unborn son Miles at Alexandra Hills.
A Waterford West teen has been charged with two counts of murder over the deaths Kate Leadbetter, Matt Field and their unborn son Miles at Alexandra Hills.


Magistrate Rosemary Gilbert did not allow media to be present in court when Ms Young and Ms McKeon made their arguments so it is not known what the grounds for their opposition was.

"I decline the application today to be present for proceedings as I consider that the presence of media organisations and reporting of today's proceedings would be prejudicial to the interest of the child...," Magistrate Gilbert told journalists when they were allowed back into the court room.

The Waterford West teen was originally charged with two counts of murder and one count of dangerous operation of a vehicle adversely affected by an intoxicating substance.

Police last week charged him with an extra eight offences including three counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle while adversely affected by an intoxicating substance, and one count of driving with a disqualified license.

It's understood the hearing today was for a simple adjournment to allow the fresh charges to marry up with the original charges which are due to be mentioned late next month.

The 17-year-old boy has been in custody since his arrest on the afternoon of January 26.

It's alleged he was behind the wheel of a stolen Toyota Landcruiser when he smashed into the young couple who were out walking their dog.


The tragic deaths of Ms Leadbetter, Mr Field and their unborn son Miles prompted widespread community outrage and sparked calls for an overhaul to the youth justice system.

The State Government last week announced changes to the system in a bid to crackdown on juvenile offenders with new measures to be introduced including GPS trackers for recidivist offenders aged 16 and 17, strengthening existing bail laws and creating a presumption against bail for youth offenders arrested for indictable offences while already on bail.

Originally published as Magistrate shuts media out of teen's murder case


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