A COMMITTAL Mention hearing for the man charged with the murder of Phillip Island mother of three, Samantha Joy Fraser, did not go ahead as planned in the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court last Thursday, January 10.
Adrian Basham, 42, of Paynesville, who was charged at Bairnsdale on Thursday, August 2 with the murder of Ms Fraser at her Cowes home on Monday, July 23 last year, appeared in court by video link.
As explained to the court by defence counsel for Mr Basham, Sarah Condon of Stary Norton Halphen Lawyers, an impasse over the financing of Mr Basham’s defence prompted Ms Condon to make an application for an adjournment while these matters could be sorted out.
Magistrate Rodney Higgins agreed and set a new date for the committal mention as Thursday, March 21 in the same court.
Ms Condon said the Supreme Court had made an order on September 3 last year, restricting Mr Basham’s access to all property and assets and an application to Victoria Legal Aid, to fund two proceedings against Mr Basham, had been refused.
“I am here today unfunded in a capacity to assist the court,” Ms Condon said.
She said there would need to be a new application to the Supreme Court to clear the way to the funding of the accused man’s defence, either with his own funds or via Legal Aid.
Mr Basham appeared in a white t-shirt, clean shaven with close cropped hair. He made notes at various stages during the afternoon session in Court 4.
Prior to the start to proceedings, he asked the name of the “judge”. He asked who he was being represented by and also noted he couldn’t hear the audio too well.
“I’m a magistrate, not a judge,” Mr Higgins said.
Having established that the committal mention hearing would be rescheduled to March 21, the remainder of the hearing dealt with the expiry of a suppression order on the day and what arrangements, if any, should be put in place to replace it until March 21.
Ms Condon wanted the present arrangements to continue but acknowledged reaching agreement with Tom Otter of Macpherson Kelley Lawyers, appearing on behalf of the
media outlets; including the Herald and Weekly Times, The Age, Channel 9 and 7 and Nationwide News (a division of News Corp); for a more limited, temporary order to be put in place.
This allowed the media services to report some aspects of the case that had previously been supressed but limited reporting only to information relating to the murder charge.
Magistrate Higgins applied the suppression order to a separate set of charges and also refused a request from Mr Otter for the summary of the alleged offence to be released.
Only the charge sheet was released, with Mr Basham’s address redacted.
It says simply that “the accused at Cowes on 23rd July 2018 did murder Samantha Joy Fraser.
The informant is Detective Senior Constable Luke Farrell of the Homicide Squad, Level 4/313 Spencer Street, Docklands. His contact email is luke.farrell@police.vic.gov.au
A Committal Mention hearing is a preliminary hearing before a magistrate at which legal issues are sorted out before the full committal hearing is held where it is decided whether or not the accused has a case to answer.