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Accused officers told to clear diaries for trial over Roberto Curti's death

Date

Louise Hall

A magistrate has told lawyers representing four police officers in relation to the death of Brazillian student Roberto Laudisio Curti to clear their diaries so the case can go ahead this year.

Mr Curti, 21, died on Pitt Street in the early hours of March 18, 2012, following a chase and violent struggle with 11 police officers, many of whom were acting on incorrect reports of an armed robbery.

Following an investigation by the Police Integrity Commission, Senior Constables Eric Lim and Damien Ralph were charged with common assault, and Senior Constable Scott Edmondson and Constable Daniel Barling with assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

All have pleaded not guilty.

In the Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday, Magistrate Jane Culver was told the various lawyers representing the officers would not be available for a hearing until next year due to other cases.

The trial is expected to take four weeks.

But Ms Culver said the situation was unacceptable and the case deserved a "speedy resolution".

"Clearly the stakes for your clients are high as they are for the deceased's family," she said.

"It may be that you have to abandon some other commitments."

An inquest into Mr Curti's death heard he had earlier jumped over the counter of a convenience store in an LSD-induced psychotic state and left with two packets of biscuits.

Two police officers spotted him wandering down Pitt Street and tried to speak to him before he ran off. More officers joined the chase and the eventual restraint.

Tasers were fired up to 14 times - nine of which hit Mr Curti - and he was restrained by seven officers using three cans of OC spray, two sets of handcuffs, a police baton and "half a tonne" of officers.

Ms Culver said under the "Hunt protocol" charges against public officials must be heard at the earliest date available to the court rather than at a time suitable for counsel.

Lawyers for the officers, including Murugan Thangaraj SC, and Ray Hood, argued the case was an exceptional one and it was desirable for the same counsel who appeared at last year's inquest to appear at the trial.

But Ms Culver disagreed and set the hearing for November 3.

"This matter has every need for a timely resolution for the sake of the Crown, each of the accused and the community in general," she said.

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