STEPHEN Orr, accused of using a captive bolt gun, a device used in the slaughtering of cattle, to assault a 67-year-old man who he met online has had his charges upgraded to two counts of attempted murder a week before he was due to face trial in Newcastle District Court.
It is an unusual case; after chatting online, two men, the 67-year-old and 55-year-old Mr Orr, agree to meet at a pub in Broke Road, Pokolbin about midday on August 13, 2017.
But between 2pm and 3pm, after the men had left the pub to head to a remote property in Wollombi Road, Paynes Crossing, Mr Orr is alleged to have assaulted the 67-year-old with a captive bolt gun, detained and "intentionally incapacitated" him and then fired a .22 calibre rifle at the man as he tried to make his escape.
Mr Orr - who has been behind bars since his arrest - was arraigned on August 30 last year and pleaded not guilty to charges of using an offensive weapon with intent to commit an indictable offence, firing a firearm in a manner likely to injure a person and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The estimated five-day trial was set down to begin on July 22, but was vacated on Monday after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions revealed they had "significantly upgraded" the charges against Mr Orr.
He will instead face a trial on charges of two counts of attempted murder, one for the alleged assault using the bolt gun and the other for allegedly firing the firearm, as well as aggravated detain for advantage and cause actual bodily harm and possess three or more firearms.
And due to the usual backlog of criminal matters awaiting trial in Newcastle District Court, that trial - which now has an estimate of more than two weeks - won't begin until July 20, 2020, meaning Mr Orr will have spent nearly three years in custody before facing trial.
Crown prosecutor Brian Costello said the way Mr Orr allegedly fired the captive bolt gun would be a central issue at the trial and the jury would need to be shown a demonstration.
"The weapon in question is a captive bolt gun," he said. "The weapon is used in abattoir as part of process of slaughtering cattle."
"The Crown case is that the accused has had access to the weapon for some time and would have known full well its operation."