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NSW: Former police worker plans to change guilty murder plea: court

15 Dec 2008 1:26 PM

SYDNEY, Dec 15 AAP - A former police worker who admitted murdering his girlfriend may change his plea to not guilty, the NSW Supreme Court has been told.

In November, Paul James Wilkinson, 33, a former Aboriginal liaison officer with the NSW Police Force, pleaded guilty to murdering 23-year-old student nurse Kylie Labouchardiere.

She was last seen alive at Sutherland, in Sydney's south, on April 28, 2004.

Her body has never been found.

Earlier that day she had packed two suitcases and left the home she shared with her grandmother on the NSW Central Coast, saying she was travelling to Goulburn.

Wilkinson has pleaded guilty to arson in relation to a fire at the house he had lived in at Picnic Point in southern Sydney.

As he was about to face a sentencing hearing in the NSW Supreme Court on Monday, Wilkinson sacked his barrister Terrence Healey and indicated he would make an application to change his murder plea to not guilty.

The court was told he would not change his arson plea.

Crown prosecutor John Kiely SC said Wilkinson's decision showed the "hallmarks" of a delaying tactic.

Justice Peter Johnson said he had been "ready, willing and able" to hear sentencing submissions and was adamant the matter would make some progress before the end of the year.

"A change of legal representation at this stage has a significant impact on the administration of justice," the judge said.

"The court will not allow the administration of justice to drift - the court will maintain control over the process of this case.

"If there is an application to reverse the plea, I can hear that application.

"(But) there is a need for progress, and progress this week.

"It is my intention to fix this matter."

The matter has been adjourned until December 17 when Justice Johnson says he expects Wilkinson's new counsel to have been fully briefed and for a decision on the reversal of plea application to have been made.