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Coober Pedy murder victim Karen Williams was bashed and buried ‘half alive’ because she witnessed armed robbery, court hears

• AUGUST 18, 2014

COOBER PEDY teenager Karen Williams was bashed and buried “half alive”, because she stumbled upon three men carrying out an armed robbery, a court has heard.

The Supreme Court this month rejected an application by the accused killer, Nikola Novakovich, to have the case against him permanently stayed.
Novakovich, 42, is charged with the murder of Ms Williams at Coober Pedy on August 4, 1990.
The 14-year old’s body has never been recovered, despite an intensive search of mine shafts in and around the town last year.
Justice Tom Gray has refused an application by Novakovich for the case to be permanently stayed and also refused a judicial review of a magistrate’s decision not to allow the defence team to cross examine witnesses before the case was committed for trial.
Justice Gray found a magistrate overseeing the committal process had not erred by refusing to allow Novakovich’s lawyer to cross examine witnesses, including a man who told police he helped Novakovich to dispose of Ms Williams’ body.
The court heard Aleksander Radosavljevic had given a number of statements to detectives, including that Ms Williams was killed because she had unwittingly witnessed a robbery.
During his reasons to commit Novakovich to stand trial, Magistrate Terry Forrest said Mr Radosavljevic had initially told police Ms Williams had seen the pair stealing a generator a day or so before the murder and had threatened to dob them in to police.
“In a later interview Radosavljevic said that he had lied to police when saying he and (Novakovich) had stolen a generator,” Mr Forrest said.
“He said that in fact he and (Novakovich) and another man, Dean Bulovic, had carried out an armed robbery on a Coober Pedy man known to Mr Radosavljevic as Zoran.
“He said that this was the crime that Ms Williams had observed; otherwise he maintained the recollection of having assisted (Novakovich) to conceal the body of Ms Williams.”
Mr Radosavljevic has not been charged by police with any offences in connection with the alleged murder.
Magistrate Forrest also refused Novakovich’s legal team permission to cross examine Mr Radosavljevic's former partner, Gordana Susa, over alleged admissions he made to her in the 1990s.
“In her statement she refers to a conversation she said she had with Radosavljevic in which he said that he had done a holdup and had murdered someone,” Mr Forrest said.
“He said ‘as we came out, a girl came out half drunk. We bashed her. We killed her. We buried her when she was still half alive but there was no way anyone would find her’.”
Mr Forrest found that while there were inconsistencies between Mr Radosavljevic and Ms Susa’s statements — particularly her claim that he had admitted taking part in the killing — those issues could be the subject of any cross examination at trial.
In his reasons to refuse the stay application, Justice Gray found Magistrate Forrest had ruled correctly and said that any issues could be addressed by the trial judge.
Novakovich has pleaded not guilty to the murder and is listed to face trial in the Supreme Court in February.

Council told to widen Coober Pedy runway

The District Council of Coober Pedy says it appears to have no choice but to widen the town's runway. New Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulations regarding runway widths come into place in February.
Mayor Steve Baines says council was under the impression the runway would not need to be widened but has now been told it does.
He says it could cost up to $500,000.
Councillor Baines says local government elections will make it difficult to complete the work in time.
"Our council will not be able to enter into a contract that exceeds $100,000 while in caretaker mode, that basically means that unless we obtain ministerial approval we will not be able to enter into the contract to widen our runway," he said.
"Although ... REX and Kendall have been flying into Coober Pedy for 20 years without incident, there now seems to be some requirement for that runway to be widened."

A South Australian regional council says a recent development court ruling could have implications for other councils.

The Coober Pedy District Council's rejection of what it deemed to be an office in a residential area was recently overturned in the Environment Resource and Development Court.
The court ruled that the applicant, Aboriginal Family Support Services, does not employ tertiary-educated professionals, so is not an office or consultancy rooms.
Coober Pedy's chief executive, Phil Cameron, says the ruling's definition of offices or consulting rooms as being used by tertiary-educated professionals is not something currently considered in applications.
Mr Cameron says council is appealing against the ruling.
"Obviously this ruling will affect the definition of offices and consulting rooms throughout development applications throughout the whole state," he said.
"If councils would have to investigate it further and find whether people who are going to deliver services out of those do have professional qualifications, you know that's generally not the rule of thumb of what we do.
"It would create a lot of extra work for us guys and I guess whether we can stop people from setting up offices and consulting rooms in residential areas is going to be interesting if they don't have professional qualifications.
"So it may lead [to] where offices and consulting rooms may be able to be located ... anywhere."

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