A man charged over the fatal shooting of a Sydney police officer and former Glen Innes man will see his former defence barrister become a crown witness if he continues his bid to withdraw his guilty pleas, a court has heard.
Philip Nguyen, 55, was accused of playing the justice system on Tuesday after the NSW Supreme Court heard that he wished to make an application to formally change his pleas.
Nguyen pleaded guilty in July to manslaughter and to wounding Constable William Crews with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The 25-year-old trainee detective died after he was shot during a drug search in a basement car park at Bankstown in Sydney’s southwest in September 2010.
While Nguyen did not fire the fatal shot, he was charged with manslaughter on the grounds of “excessive self-defence”, the court has previously heard.
The crown has alleged Nguyen produced a firearm during the raid and fired it, hitting Const Crews in the arm.
Const Crews fired three shots in return before a fellow detective fired once, accidentally shooting him in the neck.
Nguyen’s solicitor, Ho Ledinh, said yesterday that his client wanted an adjournment
in order to make an application to withdraw the pleas.
He told the court that Nguyen did not fully understand the legal consequences of the charges when entering previous pleas.
“The defender will not be able to enter a plea of guilty for something he did not do,” Mr Ledinh told the court.
But crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi said the situation was “most unsatisfactory”.
The court heard that Mr Ledinh was the fourth solicitor for Nguyen, who had previously decided that he no longer needed Janet Manuell and twice sacked Stephen Hanley, and his instructing solicitor Chris Watson.
If the application hearing went ahead, “Mr Hanley and Mr Watson will now become crown witnesses,” Mr Tedeschi said.
“We will be obtaining affidavits from them.”
While Mr Tedeschi conceded the court was not in a position to reject the application for an adjournment, he said the crown did not have any confidence that Nguyen would be able to fund his defence.
“The whole court system has been brought to a grinding halt so that this offender’s
family can obtain some funding,” he said.
“He (Nguyen) is playing the system in a way which which we submit is completely unacceptable.”
But Mr Ledinh said he was prepared to do anything he could to defend Nguyen.
Justice Price directed Nguyen to file the notice of motion and all affidavits in support of the change of plea application to the DPP by the beginning of November.
He listed the two-day application hearing for December 13, adding that if the paperwork was not filed the matter would go straight to a sentence hearing.
“The court will not allow the justice system to be further delayed,” Justice Price said.
Nguyen was due to be sentenced this week, but last week indicated he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea.