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Judges
11 December, 2007  
Heavy traffic at The Mensch's committal

The ex-judge, his “close friend”, his alibi and his speeding car all collide at the Drowning Centre. Our reporter Ginger Snatch is court-side


imageThe much-awaited appearance of Vivian Schenker (pic) in former Federal Court judge Marcus Einfeld’s perjury committal hearing, proved to be a fizzer.

The Mensch’s long-time “close friend”, who has done a deal with the DPP to avoid prosecution for giving a false statement, made only one rather lame concession in the witness box.

“I can’t picture the car,” she said, referring to the vehicle Einfeld claimed to be driving on Sunday January 8, 2006 when they lunched at Pilu restaurant in Freshwater.

Einfeld says it was his mother Rosa’s white Toyota Corolla, but CCTV footage shows her car never left its garage that day.

Schenker’s initial statement to police in August 2006 backed Einfeld’s story.

This was the former judge’s second stab at an excuse. Initially he told the magistrate in the speeding offence hearing that at the relevant time he had lent his silver Lexis to Professor Theresa Brennan while he was up the coast at Forster.

When that one came unstuck because The Daily Smellograph discovered Prof Brennan was dead Einfeld changed gears and said he’d borrowed his mother’s car to tool up to Freshwater.

Today (Tuesday, Dec. 11), the former SBS and ABC journalist gave evidence to a courtroom packed with reptiles and other assorted vampires avid for scandal.

imageDeputy chief magistrate Helen Syme’s patience was sorely tested as she directed her courtroom be cleared of extraneous people more than once.

Evidence aside, it was a good show, starting with Ian Barker QC, The Mensch’s (pic) gnome-like counsel.

Barker commenced by expressing his “disgust” at the Crown’s opening address, which he described as a “generalised and unjustifiable attack on Mr Einfeld’s character”.

He seemed pretty unhappy with how the Crown had generously dispensed copies of its opening to the reptilian hordes before the defence had seen it.

“It’s disconcerting to see the DPP running in step with the press,” he told the magistrate.

“I repudiate everything Mr Barker says,” retorted the urbane Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor Wayne Roser SC.

It was a hearing direct from central casting – from the compromised woman to the thin-lipped, bullet-headed detective sergeant. Even the bleach-blonde-and-buxom court officer seemed to be auditioning for a larger role.

On February 9 this year fraud squad detectives put to Schenker a simple proposition after they found the CCTV footage that showed she was not in Rosa Einfeld’s white Corolla:

“Vivian, your options at this point in time include you maintaining your current position and sticking by what you allege in your statement … you are at risk of being criminally charged with hindering this investigation under section 315 of the Crimes Act.”

She saw the sense in it and the following Monday told the police she lied because she thought it “helpful” to her friend.

imageThe Mensch himself appeared reasonably at ease for someone facing 14 charges and possible imprisonment for lying about traffic offences going back to 1999 when he was still a judge.

Accompanied by his son and daughter, but not his de facto wife Sylvia Eisman, Einfeld avoided eye contact with Schenker and Angela Liati (pic), whom the DPP says made a false statement on his behalf.

Liati is facing committal proceedings in relation to a statement she gave police about the driver of Einfeld’s silver Lexus the day it was photographed speeding in Mosman – January 8th 2006.

Liati told police it was Professor Theahresa Brennan, a slightly different Professor Brennan to the one previously cited by The Mensch, whom he identified as Theresa Brennan.

Unfortunately, The Mensch’s Theresa Brennan was well and truly deceased by January 8, 2006.

Liati was present in court this morning looking a little forlorn, something the surgeon’s knife has not quite managed to correct.

imageJust before the hearing was adjourned, the court saw a police video re-enactment of Einfeld’s likely car trip back from Freshwater to Pyrmont, where he was picking up his de facto, her daughter, her mother and his mother.

The Mensch had thoughtfully arranged for all of them to see Menopause the Musical at the Lyric Theatre while he dallied awhile with Ms Schenker.

The video journey took 24-minutes and forty seconds in mostly “not very heavy traffic”, according to detective sergeant Troy Stenberg.

Barker had warned magistrate Syme the video wasn’t very riveting viewing. He was right. For a juicy case, this was dullsville.