Petrified witnesses to give video evidence

Twelve witnesses will give evidence at a serial sex offender's court hearing via video link due to concerns they will be too intimidated by his presence.

The court heard witnesses were "petrified" about being in the same room as the rapist, who has been charged with almost 100 offences that allegedly occurred in prison.

Five Corrective Services officers escorted the heavily shackled, long-term prisoner into his Brisbane Magistrates Court committal hearing on Wednesday.

Crown prosecutor Catherine Birkett argued that it would cause more trauma for the witnesses if they had to appear in court, saying they were genuinely distressed about giving evidence in person about the alleged offences.

The string of charges include 35 counts of rape, 23 of indecent assault by anal intercourse, 14 of assault with intent to commit rape as well as sexual assault and deprivation of liberty.

Witnesses said they were afraid of the man, would feel safer in another room, did not want to see the defendant and would not be able to talk in front of him at the hearing.

One witness required his partner to be present to give evidence after suffering PTSD as a result of the alleged offending, the court heard.

However, defence barrister Jacob Robson argued the crown prosecutor must justify why witnesses were not required to be present in court.

"The court shouldn't lose sight of the fundamental right of a person who's been accused of serious crimes to face their accusers in court," he said.

Mr Robson also highlighted a statement by a witness who claimed to be "petrified and intimidated" by the sex offender after allegedly being repeatedly raped over a period of 18 months more than 10 years ago.

Mr Robson said there was no complaint by the witness during that period and that he had been seen "kissing and carrying on" in a cell with the defendant.

He added that it was common knowledge among prisoners that the witness and defendant were in a consensual relationship at the time.

However, Ms Birkett argued that the alleged offending's circumstances must be taken into account.

"It's not just a sexual offence. All of the offences happened in prison, there were threats made at the time, there was violence used at the time, in almost every circumstance," she said.

Acting magistrate Michael Holohan approved the application for the 12 witnesses to appear via video link.

"Based on the submissions they give me reason to have the view that they would be so intimidated as to be disadvantaged as witnesses if required to give evidence at these proceedings in person," he said.

The court was closed to the public for the rest of Wednesday's proceedings.

The hearing is set to conclude on Monday.