Is everything OK? – Magistrate asks murder accused about black eye

A MAN charged over the Tamworth street-fight murder of one of his associates has allegedly been bashed in jail.
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Steven John Johnson appeared in Tamworth Local Court via video link from the maximum security wing of Cessnock Correctional Centre yesterday, where he was sporting an injury to his eye.

“I see you have a black eye there, is everything okay?” Magistrate Michael Holmes asked.

“Yes, your honour,” Johnson replied.

Johnson has been in prison since he was arrested and charged on May 17 by detectives from Strike Force Leasingham – the police operation launched by Oxley detectives and the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad following the death of 52-year-old Kenny Matthews.

Mr Matthews died in Tamworth hospital 24 hours after he was allegedly bashed on Goonoo Goonoo Rd by Johnson on May 15.

Johnson is charged with one count of murder and another of assault causing death while intoxicated, but has not been required to enter aplea while investigators prepared and served an extensive brief ofevidence on his legal team.

Solicitor Patrick Kennedy said during an earlier telephone call yesterday morning his client had not wished to appear on screen for the brief mention.

“I need to know if these people are assaulted in jail,” Mr Holmes told the court yesterday.

“I was instructed only this morning,” Mr Kennedy said of the assault.

The court was not told of the details surrounding the alleged assault, but Mr Holmes urged Johnson to talk to his solicitor if he was having “any problems in the jail”.

“Are the authorities in jail looking into your assault?” he asked.

“Yes, it’s already been looked after,” Johnson replied.

Mr Kennedy said there was a joint application with the DPP for an adjournment to allow both sides more time before the case could proceed to the supreme court for trial or sentence. Mr Holmes granted the adjournment with the case to return to court for committal mention later this month.

Johnson made no application for bail and remains in custody.

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