A High Court judge says if he's forced to adjourn a murder trial involving a Taupo toddler, he will be calling for an inquiry into New Zealand's forensic and pathology system.
Justice Tim Brewer made the comments in the High Court at Rotorua yesterday while dealing with the case involving Tania Shailer, 26, and David William Haerewa, 43.
Both have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, manslaughter and ill-treating 3-year-old Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri, who died on August 10 last year.
A three-week trial has been set down to begin on May 2 but defence lawyer Andy Schulze, who appeared for Shailer, said he was having difficulty finding a forensic pathologist in New Zealand who was able to give evidence relating to the Crown's forensic report.
He said he had only received the report on December 21 and had been trying since then to find someone not connected to the Crown's pathology report. He had made contact with pathologists in Australia and England but had so far had no luck.
Justice Brewer said he had to adjourn two other murder trials last year because of difficulties in getting pathology reports.
"I did that with extreme reluctance in those two cases because these are the sorts of cases that must be resolved as soon as possible for justice to be done. If this turns out to be a third I would be asking an inquiry be made into the pathology system and forensic pathology system."
Mr Brewer said this type of trial must be given priority.
"It has been before the court since at least August last year and if I have to adjourn it it is unlikely I will be able to find a date until well into 2017."
He said trials of this nature were scheduled 10 to 12 months in advance and the Criminal Procedures Act provided for a system where pre-trial problems could be raised at callovers to ensure trial dates were maintained.
If Mr Schulze thought it would be impossible to get another pathologist by May 2, he was to write to the court requesting an adjournment, Justice Brewer said.
"I would only grant an adjournment if I was satisfied that the defendants would be unlikely to receive a fair trial in the absence of a forensic pathologist being available to assist the defence."
Harry Edward represented Haerewa and said he would be ready to go to trial on May 2.