21/02/2022 - 11:13

Hayward to plead not guilty to child sex abuse charges

21/02/2022 - 11:13

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South West MP James Hayward has indicated he will plead not guilty to a string of child sex abuse charges, just one week after vowing to continue in his role as a member of parliament.

Hayward to plead not guilty to child sex abuse charges
Mr Hayward’s lawyer revealed he intended to plead not guilty to the charges.

South West MP James Hayward has indicated he will plead not guilty to a string of child sex abuse charges, just one week after vowing to continue in his role as a member of parliament.

In a brief appearance in Perth Magistrates Court this morning, Mr Hayward’s lawyer Amanda Blackburn revealed he intended to plead not guilty and sought to amend his "over the top" bail reporting conditions to better accommodate his parliamentary duties.

The amendments, approved by magistrate Steven Heath, included the removal of the requirement to report on Wednesdays and over the weekend.

Mr Hayward’s bail was extended, with the matter now scheduled to go to a state committal hearing on April 4.

Mr Hayward has remained tight-lipped since November last year, after WA Police revealed the 52-year-old South West MP had been charged with multiple child sex abuse offences, including three counts of indecent dealing with a child under the age of 13.

The allegations are understood to relate to an incident involving an eight-year-old girl in early 2021.

The plea comes just one week after Mr Hayward claimed bowing out of his parliamentary role would send a message that any person in public office could be axed over an “untested allegation”.

Despite formally resigning as a member of The Nationals WA in December, he made a brief appearance at Parliament House late last year, allowing him to avoid being found in contempt of parliament, retain his seat and keep his parliamentary pay packet.

While acknowledging the severity of the charges, Mr Hayward reiterated that it was a matter that should be determined by the court and that he should be afforded the presumption of innocence.

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