R v Chute (No 2) [2017] ACTSC 347

In this matter Greg Walsh acted for Chute.

On 24 July 2017, Murrell CJ found that John Chute was unfit to plead to an indictment containing 16 counts; R v Chute [2017] ACTSC 246.

On 12 October 2017, the Accused sought an order that there be a permanent stay of the special hearing. Mossop J in R v Chute (No 2) [2017] ACTSC 347 at [2] set out the grounds of the application on behalf of the Accused. Greg Walsh appeared as Counsel for the Accused in respect of the hearing of the application.

On 15 and 16 November 2017, argument took place in relation to the application for a stay. In the course of the argument, it became apparent that following this decision of Murrell CJ, neither of the parties nor the Court had given consideration to the operation of s.316(2) Crimes Act. That permits a person who has been found unfit to plead to elect, either directly or via a guardian to have a special hearing conducted as a trial by judge alone as opposed to a trial by jury.

Mossop J considered the interrelationship between s.316(1)(2) Crimes Act and section 68A & B of the Supreme Court Act 1933 (ACT).

His Honour concluded that there were three reasons why s.68B does not qualify s.316 so as to preclude the making of election by or on behalf of a person who has been found unfit to plead in relation to “excluded offences “ within the meaning of s.68B.

In these circumstances, Mossop J did not determine the application for a stay and heard further submissions as to how to proceed in relation to the operation of s.316(2).


The Canbera Times – Ex-Marist brother John ‘Kostka’ Chute found unfit to plead to child sex abuse charges