Olympian’s lawyer wants media banned from hearing on stealing charges

Media should be banned from court proceedings involving Olympic diver Chantelle Newbery who has been charged with stealing groceries and unlicensed driving, says her lawyer.

Aug 26, 2021, updated Aug 26, 2021
Former Olympic gold medallist Chantelle Newbery. (Photo: AAP).

Former Olympic gold medallist Chantelle Newbery. (Photo: AAP).

Lawyer Robert Burns, appearing for the Athens gold medallist, accused the media of “opportunistic conduct” saying there would be little interest if any other community member was involved.

“Were she not a person of some note who had achieved something for this country she would be of absolutely no interest to the press whatsoever,” he told Wynnum magistrate Zac Sarra on Thursday.

“But for the fact that she’s been a gold medallist at the Olympics the press wouldn’t give a brass razoo”.

Newbery, 44, is accused of stealing groceries from an Ormiston supermarket on April 26 last year and a Victoria Point store in January, as well as consumables from a Woollongabba supermarket last month, according to court documents.

She is charged with driving in Mount Cotton while her licence was suspended on June 6, 2020.

Newbery also faces three charges of breaching bail conditions by allegedly failing to report at Cleveland Police Station in June and July.

Asked why Newbery wasn’t in court, Burns said she could be, but “there was an issue with a potential application for closed court due to the press involvement”.

“Every time this matter is before the court the press take an active interest in a matter which … if it were any other member of the community there would be little interest and it’s really opportunistic conduct by the press,” he added.

Burns said Newbery had made mistakes and would take responsibility, but “shouldn’t necessarily be subjected to any additional punishment through what the press are doing”.

Magistrate Sarra said court proceedings were open unless there were extenuating circumstances, but an application could be brought before the court with press able to respond.

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“I wish the press were here more often, Mr Burns, to be honest, to report the problems we have to deal with (like) the impact ice is having in the community, the increasing levels of domestic violence, many of the issues that are tearing this community fabric to shreds,” he added.

Sarra cancelled a warrant of arrest for Newbery that had been issued by Brisbane magistrate Elizabeth Hall last month, but not executed.

Hall said during that mention the matter would be listed in Wynnum “for a plea of guilty”.

Newbery’s matters have been adjourned to Wynnum Magistrates Court on October 1.

The three-time Olympian became Australia’s first diving gold medallist in 80 years with her Athens 10m platform win.

Newbery won gold and bronze at the 2004 Olympics, competed at four world championships and two Commonwealth Games, bagging two gold and three silver medals.

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