A $1 MILLION revamp has been completed on an Australian courtroom to hear details of a murder case.
The refurbishments have been completed for the hearing into the murder of Huddersfield tourist Peter Falconio, who vanished in the Australian Outback in July, 2001.
And the work in Darwin, in Australia's Northern Territory, may become a model for the International Criminal Court in The Hague in the Netherlands.
The new electronic "paperless" courtroom in the Northern Territory's Supreme Court is being touted as the best court in Australia, if not the world.
It was used for the first time yesterday when Bradley John Murdoch, 45, faced the first day of a committal hearing. He has been charged with the murder of Mr Falconio, 28, of Hepworth. Mr Falconio's body has never been found.
Courtroom 6 has been transformed from an unfurnished storage room to a leading-edge electronic court, where thousands of pages of evidence and statements scanned into a central system can be displayed instantan- eously on large screens.
Designer Phil Farrelly, from 3C Consulting Group, said the electronic court would cut the expected hearing time, saving tens of thousands of dollars.
"We've been running these sorts of trials for about 10 years, so we know it's about 30% to 50 % time saving," said Mr Farrelly.
"Every time you bring a document up it can take three or four minutes - we do it in two or three seconds.
"Over the course of a day you are saving maybe three to four hours."
He said there had been keen interest in the court from around the world, including from the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
"This court will be used as the basis of our design brief for them," he said. "They still have to accept that, but this is the one we will be using as a model.
"I'd like to get the appropriate people to come and see this court at some stage."
The Murdoch hearing is expected to last three weeks, with a further three-week sitting scheduled for August. About 40 witnesses will give evidence at the hearing.
Murdoch is charged with the murder of Mr Falconio, and with the unlawful assault and deprivation of liberty of Mr Falconio's then girlfriend Joanne Lees, of Almondbury.
The couple were ambushed near Barrow Creek, north of Alice Springs.