Accused murderers and offenders ‘use COVID-19 to get bail’
Criminals including alleged murderers are using COVID-19 as a "get out of jail" card before their hearings take place, claiming court delays caused by the killer virus are denying them justice.
Leading Sydney criminal lawyer Simon Joyner told The Daily Telegraph he would be making a bail application for his client accused of murder in the next week because his trial, due to start in August, would likely be postponed indefinitely.
"He has been on remand for more than two years and now facing who knows how long before his case will be heard,'' Mr Joyner said.
"We have other clients who we will be making similar arguments for who are in prison and do not know when their trials may be heard."
Meanwhile, in other countries, like Colombia, inmates have rioted over a ban on visitors as a result of the pandemic.
Lawyers are also asking magistrates and judges in the district and local courts not to jail their clients when found guilty because they could catch COVID-19 in custody.
"I am asking it be taken into consideration when sentencing and also asking that there be a more liberal use of intensive correction orders like home detention," Mr Joyner said.
Two workers at the Long Bay Forensic Hospital, which houses mentally ill inmates, have already tested positive for the virus. It has not been detected in other sections of the prison system.
A number of prisoners, including those in the hospital wing and aged-care facilities in the main prison which hold notorious criminals such as Neddy Smith and Roger Rogerson, have been tested with negative results.
Mr Joyner said he had other clients asking if they could use the threat of contracting the virus as a means to have their sentences shortened. The state's courts have halted jury trials until October.
Originally published as Accused murderers and offenders 'use COVID-19 to get bail'