Viewing entries posted in December 2013
Decision of the Tasmanian Court of Criminal Appeal on Circumstantial Cases - Smart v Tasmania  TASCCA 15
A very interesting and informative decision by the Tasmanian Court of Criminal Appeal on 23 December 2013 in the case of Smart v Tasmania  TASCCA 15 (See http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/cases/tas/TASCCA/2013/15.html?stem=0&synonyms=0&query=smart). The case involved a murder conviction based on circumstantial evidence. Blow CJ, Wood and Pearce JJ delivered a judgment which saw the appeal upheld and the murder conviction quashed. However, there was an order for a new trial on the charge of causing grievous bodily harm.
A very interesting feature article (complete with photos) on page 9 of The Australian on Monday 30 December 2013 by Mr Andrew Urban entitled "When Justice Loses Appeal". The article canvasses various views on the safety of the Sue Neill-Fraser murder conviction in Tasmania. Unfortunately, the link to The Australian reduces to one accessible paragraph for non-subscribers. The text of the article can be found on Bob Moles' excellent website Networked Knowledge. See http://netk.net.au/Tasmania/Tasmania4.pdf
A US prosecutor, who went on to become a judge, has recently been jailed for his role in non-disclosure of material evidence in the Michael Morton case, where Morton wrongly spent 25 years in prison for the murder of his wife.
The Weekend Australian 14-15 December 2013 reported that four of the NSW Police officers who were involved in a "melee" with a Brazilian student in the minutes before he died will likely face criminal assault charges over their role in the bungled arrest. See http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/assault-charges-loom-for-taser-death-police/story-e6frg6nf-1226782842707#mm-premium
Fascinating article questioning Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA in the Peter Falconio murder case in the NT. See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-563626/Joanne-Lees-spotlight-dramatic-new-evidence-free-man-convicted-killing-boyfriend.html
A man in the US was set free just recently, nearly four years after he was wrongly convicted and sentenced to 25 years life in prison for murder. (See 10 December 2013 article above).
On Tuesday night 10 December 2013, International Human Rights Day and the 10th anniversary of Civil Liberties Australia (CLA), both Eve Ash and I spoke at a CLA sponsored forum in the Coombs Theatre at ANU on the Sue Neill-Fraser case. The AFI-nominated documentary Shadow of Doubt was screened for the audience of 100 persons, which included police, academics, lawyers, politicians, political staffers, clerics and CLA and community members. The reaction of the audience throughout the movie was quite audible, more so than in Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney. There was also a great deal of interest and audience interaction and many probing and insightful questions from the floor. When I asked for a show of hands on how many people believed that there now must be some doubt about the safety of the conviction, everyone, bar one woman, put their hands up. A former Attorney-General of the ACT expressed his concern about the case in very "direct" language. The Hon. Andrew Wilkie was in attendance and spoke from the floor, which was certainly not planned. The next day, Mr Wilkie also made a public statement which was picked up by The Mercury and the Tasmanian Times in which he too expressed concerns and called for an inquiry into the conviction. See http://www.cla.asn.au/News/wilkie-mhr-joins-calls-for-inquiry-2/?zoom_highlight=wilkie. The number of prominent and highly respected people who have expressed concern about this case continues to grow.
It will be interesting to hear the decision of the appeal court in the Keli Lane case today. This case has attracted much attention over the years and there have been at least two books on the case. See http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-07-23/keli-lane-appeals-against-murder-conviction/4837492 for details of the matter and my previous blog postings (you can use the search facility in the top right hand corner of the website). It is another case where there was a conviction with no body, no known manner and cause of death and only circumstantial evidence.
Off to Canberra for the screening of Shadow of Doubt tonight at the ANU. The event has been organised and strongly supported by Civil Liberties Australia. We are expecting over 100 attendees. I will report on the night in the next day or so.
I have resurrected the below blog posting after a comment recently by "Sherlock" on the Tasmanian Times website trivialising the previous raising of the doorknocking issue in the Sue Neill-Fraser case. Please read the following information carefully. The court relies on a thorough and ethical investigation having been undertaken by police. The issue of doorknocking is just one example, in my opinion, of clear deficiencies in this investigation. Moreover, the court was led to believe that there had been a thorough canvassing of the relevant area for information and witnesses. Research and analysis using Right to Information legislation of the records maintained indicates otherwise. The process undertaken also falls well short of "best practice" as documented in the UK. Such comment is provided in the public interest.