May 1, 2024

A hearing was held Murgon Magistrates Court on Wednesday to determine whether four items requested by businessman Joe Prendergast’s defence team should be handed over by police.

Prendergast, who was charged in June last year, faces 16 counts: 11 counts of rape as well as two charges of sexual assault, two charges of indecent treatment of children under the age of 16, and one charge of attempted indecent treatment of a child under 16 (procure to commit).

Police Prosecutor Sergeant Barry Stevens told the court most of the items requested by the defence had been handed over, but there were just three sticking points.

Barrister Joshua Jones successfully argued before Magistrate Andrew Sinclair that a transcript of a pre-recorded interview with a child witness be provided to the defence.

He withdrew an application for an order that photographs of alleged injuries suffered by the complainant in an off-road motorbike crash be handed over.

Legal arguments surrounding medical records linked with this same crash – which allegedly occurred on Prendergast’s property on December 11, 2022 – took up much of the hearing.

The complainant allegedly received first aid treatment from Prendergast’s wife, Miranda, after the crash.

A comment by Prendergast was allegedly made at this time, over which Prendergast has not been charged.

The complainant later received treatment at hospital, and it was records made at this time which were sought.

Sgt Stevens said the records should be withheld due to privacy concerns, and Magistrate Sinclair questioned their relevance to the charges.

However, Mr Jones – citing several Appeals Court judgments – argued that mistrials had resulted in previous cases where information sought by the defence was not provided.

Magistrate Sinclair reserved his decision on this application for an order.

An order on a fourth application by the defence, for police to hand over an unredacted version of a video, was not necessary as police had previously agreed to do this.

Magistrate Sinclair’s decision on the medical records is expected to be handed down in Murgon Court on May 15.

UPDATE May 15: The matter will next be before court on September 10.