Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Australia: David Eastman’s hopes to claim compensation for wrongful conviction could be dashed

JAILED cop killer David Eastman’s hopes for millions in compensation could be dashed by being released without having his conviction quashed.

That is one of the options the full bench of the ACT Supreme Court will consider today.

Eastman has been given legal aid to argue against that option, and he will instead try to persuade the full bench to quash his conviction for the 1989 murder of top cop Colin Winchester.

If Eastman succeeds at the full bench hearings today and tomorrow it will open the way for him to make a massive compensation claim.

Compensation precedents have been set by the other high-profile cases of Lindy Chamberlain and Andrew Mallard.

Ms Chamberlain received $1.3 million in compensation in 1992 after being wrongly convicted of killing her baby daughter Azaria in 1980 and Mr Mallard got $3.25 million in 2009 after spending 12 years in jail before being exonerated over the 1994 murder of Perth jeweller Pamela Lawrence.

Fighting against freedom and compensation for Eastman at today’s hearing will be the office of the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions.

It will try to convince the full bench that Eastman is guilty and should be kept behind bars until he dies.

Former Victorian County Court judge John Dee, QC, yesterday said it would be unfair to Eastman if the full court decided to allow Eastman’s murder conviction to stand.

Mr Dee was lead counsel assisting the coroner during the Winchester inquest and has closely followed the Eastman case since then.

"Eastman didn’t get a fair trial and deserves nothing less than having his conviction quashed," he told the Herald Sun.

Former public servant David Eastman arrives at ACT Supreme Court on charges of murdering

Former public servant David Eastman arrives at ACT Supreme Court on charges of murdering Police Commissioner Colin Winchester. Picture: Ray Strange

A judicial inquiry last month recommended freeing Eastman without a retrial. He has served 19 years behind bars for the murder of Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Winchester.

The Martin inquiry said the guilty finding against Eastman, 68, was based on "deeply flawed forensic evidence".

Acting Justice Brian Martin said he was "fairly certain" Eastman committed the murder — but still found Eastman’s jailing for life without parole was a substantial miscarriage of justice that warranted his 1995 murder conviction being quashed.

If the full bench of the ACT Supreme Court adopts the Martin inquiry quashing recommendation it would enable Eastman to seek millions in compensation for wrongful imprisonment.

But one of the four options the full bench is considering is allowing Eastman’s conviction to stand and recommending that the ACT Government change his penalty.

That could result in Eastman’s life sentence being reduced to time already served, meaning he would be freed but would remain a convicted murderer forever.

Being a convicted murderer would make it extremely unlikely Eastman would win a compensation claim.

Original report here




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