• A Yuendumu sunset. (Rachael Hocking/NITV)Source: Rachael Hocking/NITV
The family and community of a young Warlpiri man who was fatally shot by a NT police officer in November have expressed relief after a decision to keep future court proceedings in Alice Springs.
Rachael Hocking, Aneeta Bhole

19 Dec 2019 - 12:39 PM  UPDATED 19 Dec 2019 - 4:09 PM

An application made last week by lawyers representing a Northern Territory police officer charged with the murder of Kumanjayi Walker to have court proceedings moved to Darwin was rejected on Thursday. 

Magistrate John Birch told the Alice Springs Local Court that he did not accept the argument that safety was a concern if proceedings remained in the central desert.

"I'm not satisfied it is in the interest of justice to change the venue," he said. 

However, the defendant could still apply to have the trial shifted to Darwin in the future.

Kumanjayi Walker was killed last month after being shot by a police officer in his home in Yuendumu. Within a week the officer was charged with murder by NT Police.

Members of the Yuendumu community have been travelling four hours to Alice Springs for preliminary mentions. If the case was shifted to Darwin they would be required to travel an additional 16 hours.

Speaking outside of court on Thursday, Chairperson of the Warlpiri Parumpurru [Justice] Committee Ned Jampijinpa Hargraves said it was good outcome. 

"We are happy that we don't need to go all the way up to Darwin to get this court happening again," he said.

"We want it here. It is so extremely important to our family members and community." 

Mr Walker's cousin Samara Fernandez Brown said the prospect of travelling 1500km from Alice Springs to Darwin had been daunting for the family. 

“I think there’s just this huge feeling of relief because it would’ve been very difficult logistically and financially to get everyone to go to Darwin," she said. 

David Edwardson QC, representing the NT officer, told court last week that the application to move proceedings to Darwin was to ensure a "fair trial".

"This unprecedented volatile public response focuses very much on Alice Springs and accordingly is highly prejudicial to the fair trial of the accused, not to mention the security of anyone connected to the trial," he said. 

Police Association President Paul McCue said he was disappointed with Thursday's decision.

"We have to remember this is a very dangerous situation. [The officer] went to work that day, put his uniform on and was tasked along with his colleagues to arrest a violent offender," he said. 

If the case goes to trial in the Supreme Court the location of court will likely be contested again. 

The matter was adjourned until April 9. 


Murder trial 'part of our healing': Kumanjayi Walker's family to learn court location
The grieving family and friends of an Aboriginal man who died after being shot by a Northern Territory police officer have pleaded to keep court proceedings in Alice Springs, rather than 1,400km away in Darwin. On Thursday, they'll find out if they have been successful.