Search for judge to rule on Ellis decision

Tim Ellis and his wife, Anita Smith, leave the Hobart Magistrates Court.SENTENCING of Tasmania’s Director of Public Prosecutions Tim Ellis has been delayed while the search is on for a Supreme Court judge willing to hear an appeal against his guilty verdict for negligent driving.

Justice David Porter yesterday disqualified himself from the case, leaving him no other option but to impose an interim stay on proceedings until a judge is found.

Ellis was due to be sentenced next week after he was found guilty of killing Natalia Pearn, 27, when his car crossed on to the wrong side of the Midland Highway and collided head on with Ms Pearn’s vehicle.

Ellis, who was not in court yesterday, faces a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1300 fine.

However, Ellis has appealed against the decision and wants sentencing delayed until after his appeal is heard.

Tasmania Police wants to proceed with sentencing as planned.

Justice Porter said a decision on the timing of the appeal and sentencing could only be resolved by a judge willing to hear the entire matter.

“Inquiries are being pursued in relation to the situation of other judges of this court,” he said.

“It may be that no judge of this court considers themselves able to deal with any substantive matters and things will have to take their course.”

Justice Porter said an interstate judge may have to be flown in, which would take longer.

A similar problem faced the Magistrates Court in the lead up to Ellis’s trial, after Chief Justice Michael Hill and Deputy Chief Magistrate Michael Daly recused themselves from the hearing.

Ellis’s legal team objected to an interstate magistrate being brought in and Magistrate Chris Webster finally agreed to preside over the trial.

Ellis remains suspended on full pay from his position as DPP.

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