The murder trial of Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara has been pushed back to next year after it was revealed Sydney barrister Charles Waterstreet may face contempt charges over “prejudicial” social media posts.
Mr Waterstreet, who had been acting for McNamara, sparked concerns this week after a photograph featuring him and an unknown person was taken outside the Supreme Court and then posted on Instagram with a caption.
Both the image and text were then repeated via Twitter.
To re-publish what was in the posts would “prejudice the rights of one of the accused to a fair trial”, Justice Geoffrey Bellew said on Friday.
“To say the vacation of this trial is unfortunate would be a gross understatement.”
Mr Waterstreet, who denies being behind the posts, withdrew from the case earlier this week after the posts came to light.
McNamara is now without counsel, making it impossible for the trial to go ahead as planned next week, Justice Bellew said.
“It would be particularly unfair to place him (McNamara) in that position when the circumstances that have led to that position are not of his making.”
“To vacate this trial comes at considerable public expense,” he added.
With 13 pre-trial judgments having already been delivered in the matter, Justice Bellew noted such efforts had been “largely wasted”.
Rogerson and McNamara have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Jamie Gao, who was allegedly shot in a Sydney storage shed on May 20 last year.
Their murder trial was abruptly cut short last month after Mr Waterstreet concluded his opening address to the jury.
As to Mr Waterstreet, Justice Bellew referred the matter to a Supreme Court registrar who will take advice as to whether proceedings of contempt should be taken.
Former NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith SC appeared on Friday on behalf of McNamara as a prospective counsel. Mr Waterstreet was not in court.
Justice Bellew hopes the murder trial will go ahead early next year.