Nicholas Aaron Baxter leaves Townsville Magistrates Court. Photo: Emma Channon
Nicholas Aaron Baxter leaves Townsville Magistrates Court. Photo: Emma Channon

Accused baby killer’s push to move retrial

The legal team of a Townsville father who had his conviction quashed for the alleged killing of his six-week-old son, has argued previous media coverage will jeopardise the fairness of his retrial.

The Court of Appeal in Brisbane ruled in May last year that Nicholas Aaron Baxter, a former soldier sentenced to nine years' jail, have his manslaughter conviction quashed.

His son Matthew died on November 6, 2011, three days after Baxter is alleged to have shaken or struck him.

Baxter's defence barrister Lincoln Crowley QC said the application to move the new trial from Townsville to Brisbane was on the basis of the risk it would be unfair.

"Due to the adverse media publicity, notoriety and public reaction to the entire matter from charging through until the current time," Mr Crowley told the Townsville Supreme Court on Thursday.

"Which refers to course of the reporting of the matter from the charge date onwards through until the appeal … a number of extracts from the headlines from the Townsville Bulletin as well as the social media pages showing the actual comments from a number of people who have publicly indicated what their reaction is to the case at various points.

"The comments that have been posted on the social media page, it is in our submission indicative of a broader public view and a broader public sentiment adverse to the applicant."

Justice David North asked in response if the trial would attract similar attention if it were to be moved to Brisbane.

"There's likely to be a lot of publicity given to the trial, is there not?" Justice North said.

Mr Crowley told the court Brisbane being a larger district meant there was a larger number of potential jurors.

"A larger pool from which to select, in our submission there would be a greater prospect of having people who didn't have exposure to any pre-trial publicity or any trial publicity itself," he said.

Crown Prosecutor Nigel Rees said the majority of the witnesses who would testify in the trial were located in Townsville.

"Directions are enough," he said. Justice North will reserve his judgment for next week.

Originally published as Accused baby killer's push to move retrial