ACT News

Professional standards to probe botched prosecution after police 'forgot' to show up to trial

Police have launched an internal investigation into a botched prosecution after three officers "forgot" to show up to give evidence at trial, causing the entire case to collapse.

The case involved charges against a Canberra property developer, who cannot be named as a magistrate has gagged the media from identifying him.

The defendant had been scheduled to face hearing in the ACT Magistrates Court on Tuesday on charges of property damage and assault.

He had pleaded not guilty.

Magistrate Beth Campbell was forced to dismiss the case when the prosecution could offer no evidence.

The court heard three police officers had "forgotten" the hearing date and the complainant had not been subpoenaed to attend.

ACT Chief Police Officer Rudi Lammers​ said ACT Policing is adequately resourced to deliver front-line policing and associated support services.

He described the situation as an "isolated incident".

"A full review of the circumstances is occurring and the matter has been referred to AFP Professional Standards," Chief Police Officer Lammers said.

The case had been set to start in the morning, but prosecutor James Walker was granted a short adjournment after witnesses did not show up as expected.

He returned soon after to tell Ms Campbell that all three police officers expected to give evidence had overlooked their attendance and were on duty, meaning they would not attend at all.

Mr Walker also said the complainant had not been subpoenaed to give evidence at the trial.

It is the police's responsibility to ensure witnesses are notified of their obligation to appear before matters in the Magistrates Court.

The court heard the complainant had previously asked the police to discontinue the case.

Mr Walker told the court his office had contact with police about the impending case last week.

The prosecutor asked the court to delay the trial to another date so witnesses could be present.

But Ms Campbell found an adjournment would not be appropriate and dismissed the case, saying police memory issues was not sufficient justification to vacate a hearing date.

The man sought and was granted costs.

The man then made an application to the court to have his name suppressed to prevent mention in the media.

The matter came before Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter, who granted an interim order.

She adjourned the full application until November so written submissions could be filed.