A Melbourne court hearing for a former AFL player charged with perjury has been adjourned with a key witness claiming she was not fit to attend.
Nick Stevens has been charged with giving false evidence to Ringwood Magistrates Court in December, 2014, when he said he did not know the witness.
The issue arose when he was being prosecuted for violence against his former partner Laima McKenna.
The witness, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was suffering ill mental health after feeling she was the “catalyst” for the violence proceedings, Melbourne Magistrates Court was told on Wednesday.
The witness provided a medical certificate via the Office of Public Prosecutions, stating she would be fit to give evidence in one to two months.
Prosecutor Penny Thorpe asked that the name of the witness be suppressed, citing concerns for her “safety” based on her mental health.
The woman claimed she would not be able to give evidence unless her name is suppressed from publication.
“The witness has contacted our office and indicated how distressed she is and how it’s impacted her potential to give evidence,” Ms Thorpe said.
The court was told the witness felt she got herself involved in the matter and now “feels like a victim”.
Magistrate Ross Maxted accepted her medical certificate, saying a warrant would not be issued for her to appear in court.
However, he said he did not see how it was appropriate to suppress her name from media reporting.
“There is no ground to suppress, simply for embarrassment or distress,” he said.
Mr Maxted criticised the fact the adjournment had been sought on the morning of Stevens’ committal hearing, and not earlier.
He said it was “totally unclear and unacceptable” that the witness had notified she would not be attending, on the day of the actual hearing.
Mr Maxted made an interim order suppressing the woman’s name and adjourned the hearing to June 6.
Prosecutors were also ordered to pay Stevens’ legal costs for the day.
Australian Associated Press