Local commercial property owner Bob Stewart was a no-show at Byron Bay Court House on Monday morning where he was due to face an animal cruelty charge and appear in relation to multiple Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs).
This was his second court date, which arose from the bow-shooting death of a ten-month-old puppy, Bucket, in South Golden Beach in late December, 2019.
As the appointed hour ticked by, there was no sign of the defendant or his lawyer John Weller, just the usual sorry parade of drink drivers.
Finally another solicitor, Sally McPherson, stood up as an agent acting on Mr Weller’s behalf and told magistrate Karen Stafford that Mr Stewart would not be appearing in court on this day. When asked why, Miss McPherson passed on an email message from Mr Weller which made mention of a ‘media pack’ at Stewart’s last appearance and an ‘angry Facebook group’ which made his client fear for his safety, and required him to be led from the court house by two sheriffs on January 13.
Magistrate Karen Stafford asked if the previous magistrate, Michael Dakin, had excused the defendant from appearing on this latest occasion as a result of fears for his safety, but nobody seemed to know, and court records were not checked.
The Echo was present at the last hearing, and no such comment was made by magistrate Dakin.
Additionally, The Echo was present outside the court before and after Mr Stewart’s last appearance, but did not see a media pack or an angry mob waiting for him to appear.
Miss McPherson asked, on Mr Weller’s behalf, if the trial could be held over until May 6.
It is expected that the trial will take two days, with twelve witnesses expected for the prosecution, and eight for the defence.
Magistrate Stafford said that if Mr Stewart did not appear on May 6, in person, a warrant would be issued.