Posted on: April 20, 2023, 03:44h.
Last updated on: April 20, 2023, 03:44h.
A 21-year-old man who has been in jail in Sydney, Australia, since last November on sexual assault charges at a casino will stay there a little longer. Joel Fitzpatrick Burtt was to face a judge today for allegedly assaulted a female at Star Entertainment’s The Star Grand Hotel, but the case was delayed.
The incident allegedly took place at the New South Wales property near Sydney last October, just before Burtt turned 21. While in a room at the property’s hotel with a woman, he reportedly assaulted her violently for more than an hour.
The unidentified victim had filed a report against Burtt, describing how he had choked and punched her during the sexual assault. He then turned himself in a few days later as police were close to arresting him.
Prosecution Wants More Time
At least one witness corroborated the story. Someone in a nearby room at the time of the incident could hear the victim screaming for Burtt to stop. However, there’s no indication that anyone – the victim or a witness – tried to contact hotel staff for assistance at the time.
There was also someone else in the room with the attacker and the victim at the time. The witness stated that a third voice, that of a female, admonished Burtt for what he had done to the victim’s face.
As the investigation began to unfold, police were able to identify Burtt and the publicity of the incident led him to give himself up a few days after the attack. He’s been in a jail cell since then, with several judges concerned that he might seek out the victim and assault her again to keep her from testifying.
Burtt was to make a remote appearance in court today; only his lawyer, Daniel Wakim, would physically be in the courtroom. However, according to News Corp Australia, prosecutors asked for a continuance in order to continue building their case.
The judge today, Michael Barko, agreed to give a three-week extension, although he did so contemptuously. He reportedly expressed his disdain for the prosecution’s inability to prepare its formal charges after having had so much time.
Multiple Charges, Multiple Delays
Burtt faces multiple charges of aggravated sexual assault once the prosecution finalizes its case. He will likely also face charges of battery and, since he was allegedly drunk at the time, disorderly conduct.
At the time of the incident, he was already on probation for driving under the influence. The allegation that he was drunk the night of the attack made his situation worse.
Burtt previously made an appearance in court on January 12, according to the Daily Mail. The judge denied him bail that day as Burtt pleaded not guilty, bringing the case to today’s hearing.
Wakim isn’t happy with the delays, either, with Burtt’s next appearance not likely to happen until sometime in May. The lawyer asserted that his client deserves to be viewed as innocent until proven guilty, and the delayed case is robbing him of that right. As such, he wants the Supreme Court judge to order bail.