Further delays for Cobram arson case

March 24, 2017

Corruption of a key data file containing audio recordings has been blamed by the prosecution for yet another delay to the brief of evidence in the case of an alleged arson in 2015.

Father and son Francesco and Frank Verduci appeared in Shepparton Magistrates’ Court on Monday, March 13 in relation to a fire at a Cobram house in April 2015.

The Cobram men have both been charged with criminal damage by fire in relation to the blaze at a home in Murray St, Cobram.

Detective Senior Constable Jason Williams from Cobram CIU, who was the informant to the case, told the court the prosecution would need more time to prepare the brief as key evidence was damaged.

‘‘An electronic surveillance operation was conducted on the two accused over a period of two weeks in August of last year,’’ Det Sen Const Williams said.

From the monitoring hours of audio recordings were obtained, of which more than nine hours was considered vital to the prosecution of the case.

Unfortunately, when discs of the audio recordings were sent off for transcription, some of the data was damaged and unable to be read.

Det Sen Const Williams asked the court for another extension to prepare a brief to ensure he had all key evidence ready, even after the court granted a similar extension last August.

‘‘I reserve the right to prepare the best possible brief for the prosecution, and I can’t do that if I don’t have the material,’’ he said.

He said he only discovered the damaged disc when he returned from holidays and did not have time to prepare the brief by the court date.

Magistrate Peter Mithen granted the request and the case was adjourned to May 9 at Shepparton Magistrates’ Court, with bail extended for both men.

—Barclay White

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