Prominent defence barrister Colin Lovitt today explained his lengthy and robust questioning of Tammy Kingdon during Troy Mercanti's domestic violence trial, saying his client's legal team had been forced to quiz her on intimate and sexual details of her life after they were raised by prosecutors in the case.
Mr Lovitt had spent more than three days grilling Ms Kingdon during cross examination, at times reducing her to tears and accusing her - on instructions from his client Mercanti - of being a liar, actress and drama queen out for revenge.She was questioned about sexual encounters, her early jobs as a skimpy barmaid and stripper, and certain sexual practices.
"We strongly object and almost resent any suggestion that we raised all this, shall we say, intimate details," Mr Lovitt said. "They were all raised in evidence‑in‑chief."
"We didn’t raise a whole lot of scurrilous material. It was led by the prosecution as part of its case and we then had to meet it," the Queens Counsel said, adding that the defence team could not simply turn its back on allegations against their client.
"So let’s do away with the suggestion that the prosecution just frolicked around - I’m sorry, the defence frolicked around raising all sorts of scurrilous, personal, sexual matters. Because they were raised by the State and we had no choice but to follow them up," Mr Lovitt said.
Judge Simon Stone responded: "If your client was aware, at the outset of the trial - and as he obviously was later in the trial - that he had done these matters, then all this could have been avoided, could it not?
"He then allowed you, no doubt on instructions, to cross‑examine her on these matters with a view to establishing that she was a liar," Judge Stone said.
Mr Lovitt pointed out that he had been acting on written instructions from his client.
"I mean, I’ve been at the Bar for a long time and I don’t put things because I’m making them up. I’ve never done that in my life and I never will. I put them on the basis of the instructions I get from my client," Mr Lovitt said.
The barrister also pointed out that every accused person had the right to plead not guilty.
"Everybody who’s charged with a criminal offence is entitled to plead not guilty," he said to the judge. "They’re entitled to - I suppose for want of a better expression - they’re entitled if they like to tell lies about it."The fact that some do - and eventually by a change of plea it’s an indication that they have lied - is a matter that oughtn’t to aggravate the sentence," he said.
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