The first week in court
Day one was largely housekeeping. A plea of not guilty to charges of besetting premises, trespass in a public place, and a variety of offences including hindering police and resisting arrest were entered on behalf of the 16 defendants.
Day two and three consisted mainly of viewing the footage taken by three plain clothes policemen of the rally on July 1 last year, and closed circuit tv footage from QV. There is footage of protestors gathering at the State Library, protestors moving off and into Melbourne Central, and then heading to QV where they assembled outside the Max Brenner store.
Day four (Friday 4 May) saw evidence from Mark Appleford, the Operations Manager of the QV shopping centre. Mr Appleford’s testimony discussed the preparations involving QV management and Victoria Police for the protest of July 1.
Mr Appleford testified that the police suggested wording for a sign that was displayed at several entrances to QV, stating (find quote).
Mr Appleford recounted addressing the crowd gathered outside Max Brenner, when he read from a prepared statement informing the protestors: “You are currently on private property… you are demonstrating disapproval of the political or economic policies of a tenant of this property. Accordingly you are in breach of express conditions of entry to these premises…”
Mr Appleford testified that Inspector Mick Beattie also addressed the crowd through a megaphone. Mr Appleford told the court he was unable to hear Inspector Beattie over the noise of the crowd, despite standing right next to him.
Mr Appleford testified that, though the whole of QV is private property, QV Square in front of Max Brenner and the lanes leading to it are “public space” under a Melbourne City Council overlay.
Mr Appleford discussed the positioning of the police line in Red Cape Lane, which leads to Max Brenner and QV Square. At one point the Magistrate asked Mr Appleford: “If I were a member of the public trying to access Max Brenner via Red Caoe Lane, I wouldn’t have been able to would I?” Mr Appleford replied: “That’s right, not once the police line was in place”.
Under cross examination, Mr Appleford was questioned about demonstrations of support for Max Brenner, including the visit of Mr Rudd to the store later in July.
Under cross examination Mr Appleford agreed that though there were signs on some entrances to QV, there were many ways to access the shopping centre that were not signposted. He further agreed that, looking at the crowd in front of Max Brenner, it was impossible to tell how people had got into QV Square.
Friday afternoon also saw testimony from Lisa Fleming, the General Manager of the QV centre. Ms Fleming also discussed the meetings involving centre management and Victoria Police, including the Police Security and Intelligence Unit, in the leadup to the protest on July 1. Ms Fleming testified that the QV centre was private property and she was authorised to ensure the removal of those being “disruptive”.
Ms Fleming will continue in the witness stand on Monday morning under cross examination.
Ms Fleming is the second of 37 witnesses that the prosecution intends to call.
The trial continues on Monday and for the rest of the week in Court 22 of the Melbourne Magistrates Court, corner of Lonsdale and William St Melbourne.