Sunday, January 4, 2015

Henry Keogh: Commentator Tom Percy tells "Perth Now" readers why West Australia should adopt an independent review process like the one that recently freed Henry Keogh - and asks "why West Australians should enjoy a distinctly second-class system of justice compared with citizens of other states." (Must Read, HL);

COMMENTARY: "Tom Percy: Henry Keogh decision shows judicial decisions must be left to judges, not politicians," by Tom Percy, published by Perth Now on January 4, 2014.

GIST: "Keogh’s saving grace was to come in 2013 in the form of new legislation, introduced by an independent member of the Legislative Assembly, Ann Bressington, allowing a fresh evidence case to go before a Supreme Court judge to see if it had any merit, rather than the Attorney-General. If the single judge was persuaded there was compelling new evidence that could potentially affect the correctness of the verdict, the case could go back to three judges of the Court of Appeal to be fully heard. And so Henry Keogh, convicted on the basis of some incredibly deficient forensic evidence including that of an underqualified pathologist with a dubious track record in autopsies, got his day in court. In its decision to quash the conviction last month the court stopped short of declaring his innocence, but ordered a retrial instead.  Whether after 20 years a retrial is possible or even likely will rest with the DPP, but it seems inordinately unlikely that there would be any retrial. To all intents and purposes, Henry Keogh will be free for the rest of his days. He, like the rest of us, is now entitled to a presumption of innocence. He is, however, lucky that he lives in South Australia. In WA he would still be in prison, probably forever......... Why the current State Government is so resistant to the SA model (which is also on the agenda in Tasmania) is bewildering. One might have thought that any A-G might be happy to be relieved of the responsibility in this regard, and that it was a win-win situation. Of recent times a number of fresh evidence appeals have been refused. At least three in murder cases where there has been a significant body of fresh evidence pointing in the direction of a wrongful conviction. But until we have new legislation in this area, people such as Scott Austic, Arthur Greer and Garry White will remain in prison, potentially for the rest of their lives, with their claims untested. If a judge decides their new claims are meritless, then so be it. But let them have their day. There is no reason why West Australians should enjoy a distinctly second-class system of justice compared with citizens of other states."
The entire commentary can be found at:


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