“I think it is poor practise if this is going to be the way forward in coronials that mystery witnesses turn up and they are hidden behind the veil of anonymity and then I am held to account for that,” he said in response to questions by Greens MP David Shoebridge at the hearing.
“I think it’s a disgrace to democracy, to be honest with you.”
The woman was named and gave evidence in person at the Coroners Court but her identity was protected by a non-publication order.
During the resumption of the inquest the court heard that representatives of all parties, including those acting for Mr Fuller, were made aware of the woman’s identity.
Counsel assisting the coroner, Peggy Dwyer, said the commissioner’s barrister, James Emmett, had not only questioned the woman but had been given her clean criminal history as well as the opportunity to conduct background checks.
“Unfortunately, it appears the police commissioner misunderstood the circumstances of that evidence,” Dr Dwyer said on Tuesday.
She said Mr Fuller’s comments “raised concerns for those assisting your honour that it would undermine public confidence in the Coroners Court if that misunderstanding continued”.
“As the court is aware, all parties in the inquest, including the NSW Police, were provided with a statement which had the witness’s full name on it,” she said.
The court heard the woman appeared to give evidence in relation to the death of festivalgoer Nathan Tran, 18, when she “rather spontaneously” spoke about why she didn’t go to music festivals any more.
Dr Dwyer said legal representatives for Mr Fuller had since acknowledged NSW Police knew the woman’s name.
“As I understand it, a letter has been sent by those appearing for the commissioner of police to correct the record in the budget estimates,” she said.
“It’s important that that record stands corrected, of course in this court as well, so that there’s no undermining of public confidence in this court.”
The circumstances of Mr Tran’s death and the deaths of Alex Ross-King, 19, Callum Brosnan, 19, Joshua Tam, 22, Joseph Pham, 23, and Diana Nguyen, 21, are being scrutinised by the inquest.
Angus Thompson is a court reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.