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Journos testify in rare ‘hot tub’

Sean Cowan, Grant Taylor and Tony McCarthy arrive for the Lloyd Rayney case.
Sean Cowan, Grant Taylor and Tony McCarthy arrive for the Lloyd Rayney case.

In yet another unusual occurrence in the legal life of Lloyd Rayney, three witnesses — all journalists who covered the now infamous detective Jack Lee press conference — gave evidence side-by-side in WA’s Supreme Court yesterday.

In what is colloquially known as a courtroom “hot tub”, crime reporters Grant Taylor, David Cooper and Sean Cowan sat together in the witness box to watch footage of the September 20 press conference at the heart of the defamation trial.

The taking of concurrent evidence is rare, with the standard practice in civil and criminal courts that witnesses not hear other evidence so as not to contaminate their memories or accounts.

When the method is used, it almost always involves experts, so they can concentrate on the real issues between them, and the judge or listener can hear them all discussing the same issue at the same time.

Yesterday, it was decided that the three reporters, who were in competition with each other at the time, agreed on who was asking the questions of Det-Sen. Sgt Lee, watching footage of the press conference taken by police at the time.

The approach was agreed to by Justice John Chaney, after being suggested by State lawyer Terence Tobin to save the court time.

The Rayney defamation trial, which is estimated to be costing more than $1 million in legal and court costs, is already running behind after Mr Rayney was questioned for six days.

More than 60 more witnesses are scheduled to give evidence.

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