NEWLY elected senator Rod Culleton has successfully overturned a larceny conviction in an Armidale court, but will have to again defend the charge when the case returns to court in September.
It was a dramatic day for the West Australian One Nation senator who was arrested after handing himself into police in Armidale on Monday, five months after a conviction warrant was issued for his arrest.
Fairfax Media revealed on Friday Culleton was risking arrest if he entered NSW, and after trying to avoid media outside Armidale Local Court, the 52-year-old was arrested and placed in police custody before being bailed to go to court.
Magistrate Michael Holmes, who issued the warrant for his arrest in March, said it “was in the interests of justice” to annul the conviction, after Culleton finally appeared.
Culleton lodged the legal application, challenging the conviction for larceny which stems from an alleged dispute in Guyra in 2014.
The charge relates to the alleged theft of a $7.50 key from a tow truck driver who was trying to repossess a car he was leasing. He has business ties to Guyra.
During the proceedings, Mr Holmes referenced Culleton’s “colourful letter” which was sent to the court, and Fairfax Media understands the letter labelled the Armidale court as a “kangaroo court”.
Mr Holmes adjourned the case to September 12 for mention to fix a hearing date, and also dispensed Culleton’s bail.
Locals told Fairfax Media they had been approached by the senator to “act as a bodyguard” against local media, and Culleton left court without saying anything.
His barrister Peter King said his client had been cleared to sit in the senate, after he was elected to the 11th WA senate spot.
“He is delighted with the result and pleased that the court has seen fit to set aside the conviction, and the court used the phrase in the interests of justice, and I think that is a fair way of putting it,” he said outside court.
“That’ll be up to the prosecution to see if they take things further.
“It's been stood over for mention in a month or so's time and whether it proceeds after that, the case itself is pretty weak, relating to a trivial matter, it'll be a matter for [police].”
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