Judge's unusual move in Mackay murder trial
A SUPREME Court judge has made the rare move of calling a witness to testify in a Mackay murder trial.
Justice James Henry, who is presiding over the trial of John Peros for the murder of Shandee Blackburn, called Levi Blackman to testify in the Supreme Court in Mackay on Tuesday, after Crown prosecutors refused to put him in the witness box.
Usually witnesses are called by the prosecution and defence but Justice Henry intervened, believing the jury should hear Mr Blackman's testimony.
"You heard yesterday (Monday) afternoon the prosecutor had closed his case ... the next day we call upon the charged citizen to ascertain whether or not the defence intend to go to evidence or not," he said.
"Something has to occur before that. It is necessary that I now take the rare step of calling a witness.
"Sometimes witnesses may give an account which is relevant to the case, but which contradicts or otherwise undermines the theory of guilt the prosecution contends with. They (the prosecution) are not supposed to have the right of cherry-picking only those witnesses that happen to suit his theory."
The court was told on Tuesday that Mr Blackman had already made several statements to police and provided testimony to courts and the Crime and Corruption Commission Queensland. It also was told that after implicating his friends William Daniel and Norman Dorante in Ms Blackburn's February 9, 2013 death, Mr Blackman had repeatedly back-flipped on details.
Under questioning by defence barrister Craig Eberhardt, Mr Blackman said he had repeatedly lied about Mr Daniel and Mr Dorante having told him, on the day Shandee Blackburn was killed in Boddington St, Mackay, that they had been responsible for her death
Mr Blackman said he initially had been pressured by police who had threatened him with "black magic" if he didn't provide them with information.
Mr Eberhardt asked Mr Blackman if he had been lying when he told police William Daniel had made an admission to killing Ms Blackburn during a bedroom discussion over noodles.
Mr Blackman said he had been telling the truth, but had considered Mr Daniel to be joking, or not being serious.
Questioning Mr Blackman for almost three hours, Mr Eberhardt repeatedly asked whether information given under oath on Tuesday could be differentiated from previous lies under oath and in statements.
Crown prosecutor Joshua Phillips asked Mr Blackman how many times he had lied under oath and Mr Blackman replied he had "lost count". When asked whether he also had lied about the "conversation over noodles", Mr Blackman said he had told the truth in that instance.
Later in the day, Mr Phillips showed the jury "quite grainy" CCTV footage taken overlooking Juliet St and nearby locations on the night of Ms Blackburn's death. Mr Phillips suggested a white dual-cab Toyota HiLux sighted near where Ms Blackburn had been stabbed to death had been owned by Mr Peros' at the time. He said it had rust, paint marks and other features matching Mr Peros' HiLux, a "substantial piece of evidence", which he considered could be crucial in the trial.
"It beggars belief that this is anyone else's vehicle," he said.
Mr Phillips also suggested the CCTV footage showed there was a person "stalking and creeping around that area".
The jury of seven men and seven women were glued to the court's television screen for more than an hour, some scribbling notes, until proceedings finished for the day.
The trial continues. Mr Peros has pleaded not guilty.