AN ARMIDALE magistrate has ordered a new trial in the case of Charlie Forster, the first person in NSW to be convicted under consorting laws.
Forster, 21, of Inverell, had previously pleaded guilty to habitually consorting with convicted offenders and was sentenced to 12 months’ jail, with a non-parole period of nine months.
But he successfully fought to have that plea overturned and yesterday pleaded not guilty to the consorting charge.
Magistrate Mark Richardson accepted his plea and ordered a trial de novo, effectively meaning the case will be heard afresh.
Mr Richardson ordered the case be adjourned until October 22 and granted bail to Forster – who appeared in court dressed in an open-necked shirt and trousers – on the condition he live with his grandmother.
The magistrate also set a fixed hearing date for November 5.
The offence of consorting was introduced in the 1920s to target organised crime gangs but fell into disuse over the years.
It was reintroduced by the NSW government earlier this year following shootings and bikie-related violence in Sydney.