Thursday, 6 November 2008

Retrial ordered after judge caught napping

The High Court has ruled that there was a miscarriage of justice during the trial of two men accused of drug trafficking, because the presiding New South Wales district court judge was asleep during parts of the 17-day hearing.

Rafael Cesan and Ruben Mas Rivadavia from Sydney were convicted in June 2004 of conspiracy to import more than 640 grams of ecstasy into Australia.

In 2007 they appealed against their convictions and sentences. They argued that Judge Ian Dodd's snoring was disruptive during cross-examination and the jury were visibly distracted.

Medical evidence showed the judge was suffering from severe sleep apnoea during the trial.

The Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed the appeals, but in September the High Court ordered a retrial.

Today it published its reasons, ruling the judge had failed in his duty to supervise the trial and the jury had been prevented from paying full attention to the evidence because of his behaviour.

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