Former cop cleared of downgrading mate’s charge
QUEENSLAND barrister Martin Longhurst has been acquitted of misconduct when working as a prosecutor in 2016.
The former police officer was accused of misconduct for downgrading a traffic charge for a family friend three years ago.
He pleaded not guilty to one count of misconduct in relation to public office in the Brisbane District Court on Monday.
It took a jury just half an hour to find Longhurst not guilty of the charge on Tuesday.
It was the second jury to try the barrister, who previously acted for convicted killer John Chardon, for the offence after another jury could not reach a verdict earlier this year.
Crown Prosecutor Mark Green had alleged Longhurst had altered an unlicensed driving charge for his friend Justin Duce in 2016 to remove a circumstance of aggravation, namely that Mr Duce had a previous unlicensed driving conviction.
Mr Duce gave evidence during the first trial that he had known Longhurst since childhood and that while the pair wouldn't go out of their way to associate with one another, they would see each other at barbecues and gatherings and had been on the same cruise with family friends.
The court heard Mr Duce's licence had expired just days before he was charged with the unlicensed driving offence and that he immediately renewed it upon learning it was out of date.
The court heard Mr Duce had raised the charge with Longhurst at a barbecue who informed him he wouldn't be able to apply for a work licence due the aggravated offence.
Some time later Longhurst told the man the charge would be amended by deleting the aggravating circumstance of having a previous in the last five years.
Mr Duce later entered a plea of guilty to the amended charge and was fined $450 and he was able to keep his job because his licence was not disqualified.
The court heard police officers and prosecutors have a degree of discretion with the charges they pursue.
Defence barrister Stephen Zillman argued Mr Longhurst's actions were that of a prosecutor properly exercising his prosecutorial discretion fairly.
Defence solicitor Calvin Gnech, from Gnech and Associates, said Mr Longhurst was happy the matter was finalised and "looking forward to moving on with his career as a barrister".