TWO weeks after it began, the trial of Daniel Mark Hawkins, accused of murder over the shooting death of Kenneth John Denniss at Maryland in 2018, has been aborted after the jury raised concerns about the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Mr Hawkins, now 31, of Wallsend, had pleaded not guilty to murder and claimed he was acting in self-defence when he shot Mr Denniss, 38, (pictured) outside his home in Beauford Avenue.
But after listening to nine days of evidence in the prosecution case, the jury wrote a note to Justice Michael Walton outlining their concerns about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The jury in Mr Hawkins' trial were empanelled less than a week before the NSW Supreme Court and NSW District Court made the joint decision to suspended all future jury trials.
The jury's note spoke of being concerned about the possibility of a lockdown, taking public transport to and from court and the age of one of their number.
Public Defender Nathan Steel opposed the jury being discharged, but Justice Walton disagreed. Mr Hawkins will remain behind bars and will next appear in Sydney Supreme Court on Friday.
It is unclear, given the current state of the judicial system and the suspension of jury trials, if Mr Hawkins will be given a new trial date or if the matter will be adjourned for several months.
Before they were discharged, the jury had been told Mr Hawkins was motivated by anger and a desire for retribution, after he was stabbed in the arm during a dispute over a motorbike, when he returned to the house at Maryland about half-an-hour later and shot dead Mr Denniss.
"Hey Ken, come here for a minute," Mr Hawkins called out to Mr Denniss about 4pm on December 8, 2018.
And when Mr Denniss emerged from the garage, Mr Hawkins pulled a sawn-off rifle out from behind his back, steadied it atop the fence and fired a single shot, knocking Mr Denniss to the ground.
Mr Steel had told the jury Mr Hawkins did not deny shooting Mr Denniss but maintains he was acting in self-defence and "genuinely believed he needed to discharge that firearm on this day to protect himself."