Darwin mass shooter Benjamin Hoffmann may be forced to represent himself in an upcoming legal battle over an alleged assault in prison, after his lawyer withdrew his services this morning.
- Benjamin Hoffmann, who killed four people in 2019, allegedly assaulted an inmate
- His lawyer withdrew his services in this case due to funding problems
- Hoffmann says he is ‘shocked’ after a ‘difficult day’ in court yesterday
Hoffmann appeared in Darwin Local Court via video link from jail, a day after his appearance in the NT Supreme Court where closing submissions on sentencing were heard in his long-running mass murder case.
He now faces an aggravated assault charge after allegedly throwing hot water on a fellow inmate earlier this year.
His lawyer, Dr Patricia Petersen, told the court this morning that she would have to withdraw her services because she was not currently eligible for legal aid funding.
“There is a process in place that will hopefully ensure that Mr. Hoffmann gets the necessary funding, and as far as his larger issues go, I have not backed away from those,” Dr. petersen.
“I still act for him on an amicus pro bono basis with respect to murder and manslaughter. [case].”
Hoffmann ‘shocked’ to hear his lawyer withdraw
Yesterday Hoffmann chose to take the stand and testify, against the advice of his lawyer, where prosecutors accused him of fabricating a psychotic episode to avoid guilt in the shooting.
This morning, Hoffmann told the court he was shocked to learn that his lawyer would not be representing him in the prison assault case.
“This is the first time I’ve heard of Dr. Patricia not representing me since this morning, and I just sat down and I’m kind of shocked by the whole thing,” Hoffmann said.
“I am very upset that Legal Aid has not funded my lawyers and I have no funding in the situation I find myself in.
“I had a very difficult day in court yesterday and I just need to cry a little bit.”
Hoffmann admits to assaulting an inmate
Dr. Petersen said she would be willing to represent Hoffmann again if legal aid funding was made available and she was in discussion with the service.
She said Hoffmann was not trying to “crouch down and shirk” responsibility for his actions.
“He accepts that there was a jet of liquid and he accepts that there was an inappropriate gesture,” she said.
Prosecutors said they are still following witness statements to the incident.
The case has been adjourned and is due back in local court next month.