Alasdair Young

‘Unusual’ trial as coal firm hits court over land destruction

A TRIAL with nobody in the dock and no defence lawyers has started after allegations a company caused damage during underground coal gasification.

Linc Energy, in liquidation, faces five counts of wilfully and unlawfully causing serious environmental damage.

The alleged offences happened between July 1, 2007 and December 1, 2013, in Chinchilla.

Judge Michael Shanahan told jurors on Monday, before they were empanelled, that this was a "somewhat unusual" criminal trial.

"Obviously a corporation can't appear in person so there's no-one in the dock."

Judge Shanahan told jurors Linc's liquidators previously applied to the Supreme Court and asked not to defend the charges.

The judge ordered not guilty pleas be entered for all five charges at Brisbane District Court on Monday.

Fourteen jurors were empanelled and Judge Shanahan said the trial might continue past Easter.

Prosecutor Ralph Devlin said the Crown might call about 75 witnesses, including engineers, consultants, and former Linc employees.

One possible witness was from Uzbekistan. Others included geologists and drillers.

The lack of defence representatives meant the Crown would not be allowed to make a closing address.

But prosecutors would make an opening address, which may take several days.

Judge Shanahan told jurors they would have to be objective about underground coal gasification.

"This type of mining activity itself can raise strong feelings one way or the other..."

Jurors were excused for the day. -NewsRegional

News Corp Australia

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