Legal sparks fly in Ryan hearing



THERE was no Natasha Ryan or Scott Black, but yesterday's directions hearing into a serious charge against the pair still produced fireworks.

The couple's defence lawyers were highly critical of the police, who had not yet provided them with certain information, nor appointed a prosecutor for a trial.

Ms Ryan and Black ? who is serving 12 months' jail for perjury for his role in hiding the runaway teenager from the world for five years ? are charged with causing a false police investigation as police try to recoup $500,000.

Ms Ryan disappeared when she was 14 after her mother dropped her off at school in August 1998.

In April 2003, police found her hiding inside a cupboard in Black's North Rockhampton home.

At a previous directions hearing last month, Magistrate Annette Hennessy ordered police to provide the defence with the information before yesterday's hearing.

Yesterday in Rockhampton Magistrates Court, Joanne Madden, representing Ms Ryan, said it was the fourth set of court directions police had "wilfully decided not to comply with'' since the matter first came before the courts in August, 2003.

"Over 21/2 years later and there is no-one in the police force who can tell us what it is these (defendants) are alleged to have done to cause these three investigations,'' Ms Madden said.

She called for a permanent stay of proceedings.

That was endorsed by Black's solicitor Paul Wonocott.

Ms Madden said police were "wasting public money'' because her client and Black were both receiving legal aid.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Darrell Dalton said the complexity of the case had held police back.

Magistrate Hennessy adjourned the matter to Wednesday.



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