Kumanjayi Walker inquest hears of potential conflict of interest after Superintendent Jody Nobbs testimony

The Kumanjayi Walker inquest has finished its fourth week of evidence shrouded in questions of procedural fairness, following revelations one of the legal teams might have a conflict of interest.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains an image of a person who has died, used with the permission of their family.

Yesterday, the inquest heard candid evidence from a senior member of the Northern Territory police force that racism could be a “broader issue” in the NT police force.

Superintendent Jody Nobbs further told the coroner that he did not believe the specialist police group Constable Zachary Rolfe was part of followed the plan he had designed on the night that Mr Walker was fatally shot in 2019.

Constable Rolfe has been found not guilty of three charges relating to the 19 year old’s death.

The “matter of fundamental fairness” was raised by Ian Freckleton AO KC, counsel for the Northern Territory Police.

A bald man in a suit
Lawyer for the NT Police Force, Ian Freckleton KC, represents both Superintendent Jody Nobbs and the specialist Immediate Response Team. (ABC News: Xavier Martin)

The coroner heard he did not feel he could adequately represent every member of the force who was due to give evidence in proceedings.

“Those affected by what was said yesterday, how it was said yesterday and what … may be said today are entitled to assertive representation,” Dr Freckleton told the coroner.

“We would be deeply troubled, if any of the members of the Northern Police Force were not adequately and assertively represented, throughout these proceedings, when matters touch upon various members, in very potent ways, given the language that has been employed.”

At inquests, counsels represent their client’s interests during proceedings and have the right to cross examine with those interests in mind and raise objections on their behalf.

There are eight parties in this coronal inquest.

Superintendent Nobbs was due to continue giving evidence today but given the concerns, was asked to return at a later date.

A black and white image of a young man smiling, wearing a baseball cap, headphones around his neck
Kumanjayi Walker was fatally shot by Constable Rolfe in Yuendumu in 2019.(supplied)

‘A conflict has arisen’

Yesterday, the coroner heard Constable Rolfe was deployed to Yuendumu to arrest Mr Walker and carry out general policing duties as part of the specialized Immediate Response Team (IRT).

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