Magistrate disqualifies himself from assault case

DUBBO Local Court Magistrate Andrew Eckhold has disqualified himself from hearing charges related to a violent assault he witnessed in the main street.

The magistrate said he almost intervened when Jarrett Lee Walford attacked Reese Rodney Thompson outside the Subway outlet in Macquarie Street at 2.40pm on September 3.

The magistrate took a number of photographs on his mobile phone which were passed on to police. Investigating officers also obtained closed-circuit television footage from Subway.

Jarrett, a 28-year-old meat worker, has pleaded guilty to a charge of common assault.

He continues to be held in custody and will apply for bail during an audiovisual link appearance at Bourke Local Court on Monday.

Magistrate Eckhold has recused himself from hearing the bail application or dealing with Jarrett in Dubbo Local Court.

"As a judicial officer I am expected to be detached but it is really difficult when there was so much adrenaline (at the time of the offence),'' Magistrate Eckhold told the court.

"Magistrates should not disqualify themselves easily... but it would be safer, and cleaner, for someone else to deal with this.

"I will contact the chief magistrate's office to organise another magistrate. I will go to the circuit (regional court) for that time.''

Police said Thompson was seated with a friend at a table outside Subway when Walford approached from behind.

Walford yelled: "I am gunna kill you, you ****''.

Thompson stood up and attempted to move away.

Walford continued to yell before throwing punches with a closed fist.

Thompson backed up to the Subway window and placed his arms in front of his face to protect himself.

Police said Walford threw punches, connecting with Thompson's arms and head.

Thompson ended up on the ground and curled up to protect himself.

Police said Walford yelled and kicked Thompson as he lay cowering on the ground.

Walford picked up an aluminium chair and continued yelling abuse. The chair was put down when a witness intervened.

Police said Walford walked away yelling: "I don't give a ****. Every time I see you I am going to smash ya. I'll see ya at work tomorrow.''

The Aboriginal Legal Service said a combative attitude existed between Walford and Thompson, who had known each other for about six months.

In a related matter, affray charges have been laid against Reese Thompson, 19, his father Rodney Phillip Thompson, 44, and co-accused Kieran Hutcheon, 18.

All three have entered pleas of not guilty.

The court heard the affray charges stemmed from the assault observed by Magistrate Eckhold (between Jarrett Walford and Reese Thompson).

Earlier this month the solicitor representing Rodney Thompson and Kieran Hutcheon said the magistrate could be called as a defence witness.

That possibility was ruled out this week.

"There will be no need to call Your Honour,'' the solicitor said.

Magistrate Eckhold elected not to remain personally involved.

"I will list the hearing at a time when I will be away,'' he said.

The hearing, involving more than 20 witnesses, was set down as a special fixture. It will be heard in the historic court room (facing Brisbane Street) on April 3, 4 and 5.

Bail was continued for the three men.


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