A magistrate has criticised prosecution delays in the case against three Eurobodalla Shire teens accused of the murder of a Canberra man.
Magistrate Doug Dick heard in Batemans Bay Children's Court on Thursday, June 18, that the brief of evidence remained incomplete and the prosecution sought a further two-month adjournment.
He was keen to know why.
"I accept this is a complex case," Magistrate Dick said, but warned the brief must be served within six months of charges being laid - or risk the case being withdrawn.
He said two previous adjournments had already caused a delay.
"They have had 17 weeks and it is still not available," he said.
He said the teens had been in custody since February and the deadline for the brief was therefore August.
Police prosecutor Sergeant John de Laroche said the case had not yet been handed to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
He described it as "complex to the nth degree" but said justice would not be served for any party if it were not prepared carefully.
Sgt de Laroche said the delays were necessary "so all evidence can be obtained", including "physical and DNA evidence and analysis".
He said prosecutors were relying on outside agencies and asked for the court's patience. He also said the COVID-19 lockdown had affected the process.
"It would be a miscarriage of justice to provide the defence with only a limited amount of evidence," Sgt de Laroche said.
"There are still associates being spoken to," he said.
Magistrate Dick briefly adjourned proceedings hoping a representative of the DPP could appear via audio-visual link to provide "other answers".
However, when the court resumed, Sgt de Laroche said that would not be possible, but the prosecution reduced its requested adjournment from eight weeks to four.
"There are a substantial number of unfinished investigations," he said, and "the court would support ensuring the evidence was complete."
Defence lawyers did not oppose the revised delay.
Magistrate Dick agreed to the adjournment but again stressed his discontent: "I do not believe there is any barrier to these matters moving forward."
"I think there is some relief we have brought it back from eight weeks to four," he said.
He said early plea provisions were made to reduce delays in such matters, and was frustrated this had not occurred.
"There should be sufficient evidence by this stage to enable a decision," he said.
"Criminal proceedings are expected to progress to the time table."
Magistrate Dick said he did not expect the brief "to be complete in every respect".
Co-accused appeared separately via audio-visual link from their places of detention and were supported in court by family members.
Magistrate Dick assured one accused: "A great deal of work will be put in and the matter will move forward."
The cases were adjourned to July 23 and the brief was due to be served on July 20.
Sgt de Laroche said the DPP would be handling the case at the next appearance.