IN HIS judgment on the C7 case, Justice Ron Sackville pondered what would happen “in the event of the death or serious illness or injury of a trial judge (for example, by falling off a ladder)”.
The reason for the morbid musing was an incident the Justice described on day 104 of the trial.
Noel Hutley for News Ltd had said: “The worst thing that can happen in this case is that the timetable breaks down.”
His Honour: “The worst thing that can happen in this case is that the judge breaks down.”
Hutley: “Your Honour looks in glowing health. We check every morning.”
His Honour: “On January 1, 2006, Mr Hutley, when the temperature was 45 degrees, I climbed up on a ladder in order to clear the garage of our holiday home from leaves.”
Hutley: “You should have told us, your Honour, we would have done it.”
His Honour: “The bushfires were raging four or five kilometres away, so I did what every sensible home owner does, get up in the heat; and I fell and knocked myself unconscious and spent an evening in Gosford Hospital. I was unconscious for about 20 minutes and, when I came to my senses, the very first thought that crossed my mind was, ‘can I remember anything about the C7 case?’
“Unfortunately the answer was yes. It only goes to show, Mr Hutley the fragility of human existence.”