Gareth Ward has entered formal not guilty pleas to historical sex and assault charges in the Nowra District Court this morning.
The Kiama Independent MP was represented by solicitor Robert Foster.
District Court Judge Christopher O’Brien rejected an application by the Defence to excuse Mr Ward from appearing when the matter is next mentioned in the Downing Centre District Court on the 3rd of April 2023.
Judge O’Brien granted Mr Ward continued bail.
Speaking to the media outside court Mr Ward said. “There is a lot of things I would like to say about this case but I think that you know I am prohibited from saying what I would like to say but today I have entered not guilty pleas to all of the charges that have been laid before the court and I am incredibly confident that I will prove my innocence when given the opportunity.
“This matter is something that has been dragging on for the last two years and it has been a really difficult two years but I am looking forward to having the opportunity to prove my innocence.”
Mr Ward said ” I would say something though about the presumption of innocence. There are some people in the media that have totally trashed the presumption of innocence and there’s plenty of examples of profile people that have been through the courts and have been acquitted.”
“The hurt from some of the commentary from people who know better is impactful and significant,” he said.
Mr Ward said ” I believe in truth and justice but secondly I passionately believe in the presumption of innocence, it’s not an optional extra, it’s a human right.”
He said, “I am not just looking forward to winning this case, but winning the election as well.”
Images: Peter Andrea