The Illawarra Mercury reporting team is bringing you a weekly series of behind-the-scenes stories, exclusive to our subscribers. Today, Angela Thompson shares her observations from Wollongong courthouse.
Wollongong's Court 1 looks much as it did when it was built in the late-1800s, with heritage paint colours, soaring timber ceiling, elaborate knobs and iron balustrades and a couple of decommissioned fireplaces. It was built in a time of attention to detail, but not of ergonomics.
Modern office chairs have been rolled in for today's lawyers, court staff and magistrates, but in the public gallery we still use the old timber benches similar to church pews, with high backs just barely inclined and the seat a simple, unforgiving plank.
Someone - a sympathetic court staffer? - has left a couple of cushions out and this morning I've snagged one. There is one in the dock too, where some of Wollongong's most infamous have sat for weeks at a time as their fates were decided.
They found the cushion to be of limited comfort, I'm certain.
The police prosecutor has so many folders today, she has built herself a paper fort to sit behind. I am waiting for just a couple of names to be mentioned.
A police officer has been charged with possessing child porn and is due in court today for the first time.
The case will probably just be quickly adjourned, and all my squirming in this charming but creaky relic will have been for not much.
Maybe there is more action to be had in Court 5. Anyone who was brought into custody overnight will be going there. Court 5 looks like it was built in the 1970s. Still benches in the public gallery, but upholstered. Deeper seats. I think of the black pleather with longing. It's going to be a long day.
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