Pandemic stifling former barrister’s fraud trial
Lawyers for a former Cairns barrister facing almost 50 charges of fraud have told a court that they wish to withdraw from the case because they do not want to quarantine.
The criminal trial of Anthony George Mirotsos, 45, will likely be delayed until next year after his Melbourne-based lawyers flagged concerns about COVID-19 restrictions and whether they would be forced to quarantine in Queensland before the trial.
Mr Mirotsos, who now lives in Melbourne, was charged with almost 50 fraud offences in 2017 relating to a Smithfield company, Koolmoon Developments, he co-chaired.
Police have accused Mr Mirotsos of appropriating about $360,000 and lying about the amount of equity he had in the company.
Mr Mirotsos was due to face trial next month, but a reserve trial date for February 22 was listed in light of the pandemic.
It came after Mr Mirotsos's initial trial date was aborted when his previous legal team withdrew from the case.
Barrister Simon Gillespie-Jones told Brisbane District Court on Tuesday that both he and Mr Mirotsos's solicitor also wished to withdraw from the case because they could not risk having to quarantine.
"I cannot leave Victoria, I can hardly leave my house," Mr Gillespie-Jones said.
"Bearing in mind this is our second lockdown, I can't say, especially given the way this state is run, that things are going to be fine in February."
Crown prosecutor Edward Coker said it seemed "inevitable" that the trial would be pushed back until February.
But he could not see why Mr Mirotsos's legal team needed to withdraw.
"If things do slide backwards in Victoria or Melbourne, we can't just put this trial off forever," Mr Coker said.
Mr Gillespie-Jones said there was "nothing strategic" at play.
The court heard it was Mr Mirotsis's preference that his legal representation continue, but that he may have to find Queensland-based lawyers.
Judge Anthony Rafter said while he was sympathetic to the trial being adjourned until February, he had sensed a "reluctance" from the defence to commit to the trial proceeding next year.
He said if the defence did withdraw, Mr Mirotsis could be left unrepresented.
The case was adjourned for mention on October 2.
Originally published as Pandemic stifling former barrister's fraud trial