NT police murder trial judge set to retire

·2-min read

The postponed trial of a Northern Territory policeman accused of murdering an Aboriginal teenager has been dealt another blow with the judge announcing he's retiring.

Constable Zachary Rolfe, 30, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Kumanjayi Walker, 19, during an outback arrest gone wrong in November 2019.

His trial has been postponed three times in July and August.

Twice by the COVID-19 pandemic and most recently on August 28 when the High Court agreed to hear an application for a stay order 60 minutes before proceedings were due to start.

The same court has since agreed to hear a prosecution challenge to Rolfe's legal team relying on an immunity clause contained in the territory's Police Administration Act.

That was set to delay the trial by months but it may now have to wait even longer after NT Supreme Court Acting-Justice Dean Mildren on Monday announced he was retiring.

"I am retiring at the end of this week and a new trial judge will have to be selected," he told the court during a direction hearing.

"I cannot say, at this stage, who that will be because I don't know.

"All I can do now is refer it to the chief justice and let him deal with the possibility of locking in another date."

The matter is set to return to court on November 5 before NT Chief Justice Michael Grant.

Prosecutor Philip Strickland SC and Rolfe's defence lawyer, David Edwardson QC, indicated they are available for the trial in February.

A High Court hearing date hasn't been officially set. However, the matter is likely to proceed in early November.

Mr Walker was shot three times in the remote community of Yuendumu, about 290km northwest of Alice Springs.

Rolfe is accused of firing his gun from close range after Mr Walker stabbed him with a pair of surgical scissors as he and a fellow officer struggled to handcuff him.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting