Magistrate ‘disregarded’ court’s functions, says judge

A SUPREME court judge has said a Caboolture magistrate made an "inappropriate" decision when dismissing a stealing charge against a man.

In the supreme court the Police Commissioner challenged a judgment by Caboolture Magistrate Bernadette Callaghan after she dismissed a case following a man's claim he did not leave a store with an alleged stolen item.

In a judgment delivered on Wednesday, Supreme Court Judge Glenn Martin said it was a matter for a trial to determine.

He said Ms Callaghan "misapprehended or disregarded the nature or limits of the court's functions or powers".

Rodney Walker faced Caboolture Magistrates Court in January after being charged with stealing a video camera at JB HiFi in Morayfield.

He pleaded guilty but told Ms Callaghan he did not leave the store with it. After opening the packaging and putting the video camera in his pocket, he said he later put it back on a nearby shelf, the Caboolture court heard.

According to a transcript in Justice Martin's judgment, Ms Callaghan said in the Caboolture court, "Elements of the offence is not been made out. I'm going to dismiss the charge". 

Justice Martin said Ms Callaghan relied upon Mr Walker's unsworn statement and that it was not open to a judge or magistrate to simply set aside the plea and dismiss the charge.

He ordered Ms Callaghan's orders to be quashed and the matter to return to the Magistrate's court for Mr Walker to plead not guilty and the matter to be determined "according to law".


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