Interesting revelations recently during a NSW Police Integrity Commission (PIC) hearing looking into allegations that Corey Barker, a 24 Aboriginal man, was assaulted at the Ballina police station in NSW on 4 January 2011, after an altercation with police, and that six officers then falsely accused the young man of assaulting them.
Fascinating 5 page feature article in The Weekend Australian Magazine 23-24 February 2013 with the heading on the cover "Unfinished Business. Retired lawyer Terry O'Donnell had a client he could never forget. Now his investigations have reopened one of Australia's most notorious murder cases". The client he couldn't forget was David Eastman who was convicted in 1995 of murdering Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester of the Australian Federal Police in Canberra in 1989. The case was of international concern as it was an execution-style killing of a high-ranking Australian police officer, a type of crime previously unknown to Australians. Mr Eastman has now spent 17 years in gaol. However, he recently won the right to have his conviction reviewed, due to a provision in ACT legislation.
Interesting article in today's Mercury. See http://www.themercury.com.au/article/2013/02/25/373144_print.html. Reassuring and pleasing to see the judiciary being vigilant about police propriety and the nature of evidence presented to the courts. According to the article, the Judge, in a pre-trial hearing, stated:
Following a letter published last week in the letters to the editor, a retraction and apology appeared at page 10 of the Sunday Tasmanian today:
I was enthralled watching Killing Time on TV just recently about the life and downfall of top Victorian criminal lawyer, Andrew Fraser, who once even represented Allan Bond in WA. I thought the TV drama provided a fascinating insight into the dangers and temptations of practising in criminal law. It certainly reinforced the importance of ethics and the need for clear boundaries to me. Of course, Andrew Fraser overstepped the mark well and truly and ended up in gaol for a number of years in relation to his cocaine addiction and the associated liaisons and activities. Just started his book Lunatic Soup (Hardie Grant Books 2010) which provides a disturbing description of what apparently went on behind the bars of high security Victorian prisons.
I thought I should provide a blog posting on Right to Information (RTI) legislation in Tasmania as it might assist persons who are trying, without success, to obtain important information. The RTI Act is made even more critical given the appalling lack of publicly-available policy or guidelines in this state (unlike other jurisdictions) on the law or requirements of disclosure in criminal matters.
The DPP, Tim Ellis SC, in his closing address at the trial of Sue Neill-Fraser in 2010 stated (at Court Transcript (CT) p.1400):
Unfortunately, the 60 Minutes coverage of the Sue Neill-Fraser case could not be shown last night due to the cricket game in Melbourne. When the new date is advised, I will provide advice on the blog as soon as possible. The later date will allow for greater promotion of the story both within Tasmania and nationally.
In around April 2012, some 10 months ago, the 715 page Tasmanian Police Manual (TPM) (RTI Version 11 November 2010) was removed from the Tasmania Police website. Tasmania Police advised that it was under review (although I am unaware which sections were the subject of the actual review). A note on the Tasmania Police website still advises, as at 11 February 2013, that the Manual should be available some time prior to 31 December 2012. (See http://www.police.tas.gov.au/right-to-information/our-disclosures/active/). I did wonder in April 2012 whether the TPM had been removed due to my propensity to cite from these guidelines when drafting my Right to Information requests. This of course could be sheer coincidence of timing.
Civil Liberties Australia (CLA) has voiced its concerns on its website about the Sue Neill-Fraser conviction and 23 year sentence, stating that there are worrying similarities to the Lindy Chamberlain "dingo-took-my-baby case". See http://www.cla.asn.au/