Darwin mass shooter Benjamin Hoffmann’s lawyer withdraws services in alleged ‘hot water’ prison assault case

Darwin mass shooter Benjamin Hoffmann may be forced to represent himself in an upcoming legal battle over an alleged prison assault, after his lawyer withdrew her services this morning.

Hoffmann appeared in Darwin Local Court via video link from prison, a day after he appeared in the NT Supreme Court where final sentencing submissions were heard in his long-running mass murder case.

He is now facing a charge of aggravated assault after he allegedly threw hot water on a fellow inmate earlier this year.

His lawyer, Dr Patricia Petersen, told the court this morning she would have to withdraw her services because she was not currently eligible for Legal Aid funding.

“There is a process in place which hopefully will ensure that Mr Hoffmann does get the funding that’s required, and with respect to his more substantive matters, I haven’t withdrawn from those,” Dr Petersen said.

“I’m still acting for him on a pro-bono amicus basis with respect to the murder and manslaughter [case].”

The entrance of the Darwin Local Court, on a sunny day. There are palm trees and blue sky in the background.
Hoffmann appeared before the Darwin Local Court on Monday and Tuesday.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Hoffmann ‘shocked’ to hear his lawyer withdraw

Benjamin Hoffmann has been in custody since his arrest in June, 2019.(Supplied)

Hoffmann yesterday chose to take the stand and give evidence, against the advice of his lawyer, where prosecutors accused him of fabricating a psychotic episode to avoid culpability for the shooting rampage.

This morning, Hoffmann told the court he was shocked to learn his lawyer would not be representing him in the prison assault matter.

“This is the first I’ve heard that Dr Patricia is not representing me as of this morning, and I’ve just sat down and I’m a bit shocked about it all,” Hoffmann said.

“I’m very upset Legal Aid hasn’t funded my lawyers and I have no funding in the situation I’m in.

“I had a really rough day yesterday in court and I just need to cry a bit.”

Benjamin Hoffmann pulling up a red shirt wearing a back cap.
Benjamin Hoffmann is facing an aggravated assault charge.(Supplied: Facebook)

Hoffmann admits to assaulting inmate

Dr Petersen said she would be willing to represent Hoffmann again if Legal Aid funding was made available and she was in discussions with the service.

She said Hoffmann was not trying to “duck and weave” from responsibility for his actions.

“He accepts that there was liquid thrown and he accepts that there was an inappropriate gesture made,” she said.

Prosecutors said they were still following up witness statements from the incident.

The matter was adjourned and is due to return to Local Court next month.

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