Mount Isa Hoch
Mount Isa Hoch

Police under scrutiny over botched plane sabotage trial

A LAWYER for a North Queensland pilot said they are considering suing the Queensland Police for hundreds of thousands of dollars he claims his client has lost because of a botched trial.

Resolute Legal principal lawyer Michael Spearman said his client, Josh Hoch, deserved to be compensated for a "monumental loss" after his plane tampering trial was thrown out six days in because there wasn't enough evidence.

Hoch was charged with 342 offences in January, 2017 following a multi-agency investigation into the alleged tampering of aircraft at Mount Isa Airport.

Josh Hoch.
Josh Hoch.

The investigation into nine of the plane tampering and associate sabotage charges reached Mount Isa District Court last week.

The process from the start of the investigation to the court date last week, took five years.

The trial, which was due to run for three weeks, came to an abrupt end on Monday when the Crown prosecution pulled the pin on their case due to a lack of evidence.

Justice John Henry said the evidence pinning Hoch to the alleged crimes was lacking.

"There was no sighting of him in the relevant area at the relevant time to the exclusion of other possible contenders to say he must have done it," Justice Henry said at court.

Mr Spearman said it was "abundantly clear" the matter should never have made it to court.

"The passage of five years simply demonstrates that the charges were never a proper case for criminal prosecution," he said.

Josh Hoch after his arrest.
Josh Hoch after his arrest.

Mr Spearman said his client had suffered "significant damage" to his work and personal life, had lost his career and business and was left hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Mr Spearman said he is researching the prospect of taking legal action against the Queensland Police Service to compensate his client.

"After suffering such monumental loss on a case that should never have made it to court, who compensates Mr Hoch?" Mr Spearman said.

Josh Hoch's solicitor Michael Spearman leaves the Mount Isa Police Station watch house. Picture: Wesley Monts
Josh Hoch's solicitor Michael Spearman leaves the Mount Isa Police Station watch house. Picture: Wesley Monts

Queensland Police were contacted for comment but did not respond before deadline.

The initial charges arose in October, 2016, when another pilot reported damage to his plane for the second time in a year.

The other pilot, from Macquarie Pilot Centre, claimed three of his planes had been tampered with, by having a contaminant poured into the fuel tanks of the aircraft.

When the engines fired, the contaminant caused catastrophic damage to the aircraft, grounding the planes for months.

Mr Hoch still faces more than 300 charges processing through the magistrates court, some relating to allegedly flying members of the Katter's Australian Party around North Queensland without proper licensing between 2012 and 2016.

 

 

shayla.bulloch@news.com.au

Originally published as Police under scrutiny over botched plane sabotage trial


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