Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bulletin: David Harold Eastman: Australia; Inquiry begins wrap-up; Forensic case is expected to be front and centre of any findings. (ABC News);

STORY: "Eastman inquiry: Lawyers to make final submissions as inquiry begins wrapping up," by reporter Elizabeth Byrne, published by ABC News on  May 11, 2014.

GIST: "The Eastman inquiry will begin wrapping up today with lawyers making final submissions. David Harold Eastman has been in jail for 18 years for the murder of Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Colin Winchester in 1989. Eastman has always protested his innocence but has failed to win his freedom, despite numerous appeals including to the High Court, and a major inquiry into his fitness to plead.........What made this inquiry different to earlier investigations was the suggestion of some new evidence, to cast doubt on the forensic case which was key to Eastman's conviction.........Eastman's friend Ben Smith told the inquiry that gun residue in Eastman's car may have come from his gun, after a rabbit shooting trip. He told the inquiry Eastman did not like guns and he had not told him when he borrowed the car that he was going to use it to go shooting. Part of Mr Smith's story was that he had left Eastman chatting at home with his mother for four hours while he drove out of town to go shooting. The claims may have provided an excuse for the new hearing, but it is unlikely to be part of any final analysis.........But it is the forensic case that is expected to be front and centre of any findings. The original forensic investigator was Robert Collins Barnes. His evidence linked the scene with Eastman's car at the original inquest when he told the court the gunshot residue particles in both places were indistinguishable. He told the inquest the particles had come from PMC ammunition. The coroner asked Mr Barnes directly if there was any doubt about the ammunition and he replied that there was not. But under examination by the counsel assisting at the Eastman Inquiry, Liesl Chapman, he admitted that was too strong a conclusion and that he had misled the court. He was also questioned about his assertion that a silencer was used when other experts have suggested Colin Winchester was shot with a sawn-off gun. Mr Barnes is one of several people who have been issued with an adverse finding notice ahead of the final report on the inquiry. In the end his evidence was brought to a close early when he became so sick from cancer that he had to step down from the witness box.
Police investigators were also closely questioned during the inquiry."

The entire story can be found at:

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