DETECTIVES investigating the abduction and sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl at Adamstown Heights last week say the case against Brett David Hill has moved beyond circumstantial and they now have DNA evidence.
Magistrate Robert Stone revoked a non-publication order on Mr Hill’s name in Newcastle Local Court on Wednesday, despite his solicitor, Rob Hussey, saying there were “grave concerns” for Mr Hill’s safety in jail and that identifying his client could prejudice his chance at a fair trial. Mr Hill, 47, who police said had no fixed address, appeared in court via audio visual link from a Sydney jail charged with kidnapping, six counts of aggravated sexual assault and four counts of aggravated indecent assault.
Police say he is the man who abducted an 11-year-old girl as she was walking through Hudson Park about 9.15am on June 12.
Police allege Mr Hill threatened the girl and told her he had a knife before sexually assaulting her and forcing her into a red Holden Commodore.
He then allegedly drove to a remote area of bushland where he detained the girl for a number of hours and allegedly repeatedly sexually and indecently assaulted the girl.
The girl was released at Kotara railway station about 2.15pm on Tuesday.
Police worked tirelessly to make an arrest, looking through CCTV footage and fielding hundreds of calls and tips. But the breakthrough in the case came when police received dash-cam footage from a bus on Friday night.
Mr Hill was arrested in Beaumont Street on Saturday and faced Newcastle Bail Court on Sunday, where Mr Hussey was successful in convincing a registrar that his name should be suppressed due to safety concerns.
Mr Hussey applied to extend that non-publication order in court on Wednesday, telling Mr Stone his client feared for his safety and was currently being housed in a protective custody cell with one other inmate who has access to a television, a kettle and razor blades.
“He has received a threat,” Mr Hussey said.
“Words to the effect of: ‘This is the bloke from Newcastle. You should watch yourself or you’ll die’.”
Mr Hussey asked for the non-publication order to continue until the matter was back before the court in August, or at least until he was given his own cell.
But he also stressed the “saturated media coverage” since the girl’s abduction meant his client’s reputation was “shattered already” and there was a strong risk he would not get a fair trial if he was publicly identified.
In response, senior police prosecutor Sergeant Rebecca Witherspoon said the non-publication order on Mr Hill’s name should be lifted.
“The public should be aware of the allegations and the alleged perpetrator of those allegations,” she said.
“Disclosure of identity will not jeopardise this case.
“Investigations have gone beyond circumstantial evidence. The prosecution has DNA evidence.
“Publication of his name could lead to more people coming forward who have been offended against or groomed.”
When pressed about the DNA, Sergeant Witherspoon said police didn’t yet have a forensic and analytical science service certificate, but had received “preliminary results”.
Sergeant Witherspoon also said a “further complainant” had come forward.
Mr Stone said in the interest of open justice Mr Hill should be identified and that he could be adequately kept safe in protective custody.
He adjourned the matter until August 15.
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