STORY "David Eastman denied access to highly sensitive evidence before murder retrial," by reporter Christopher Knaus, published by the Canberra Ties, on April 16 2015.

GIST:  "Highly sensitive evidence that could potentially help David Eastman in his long-running case will remain secret and out of the reach of his lawyers, after a successful push by federal and Victorian police. But lawyers for a "settled" Eastman have won a separate battle on bail, successfully arguing to further relax restrictions preventing him from obtaining a passport and travelling interstate without notification. Preparations are continuing for a second trial for Eastman over the alleged murder of Assistant Federal Police Commissioner Colin Winchester in 1989, after the Supreme Court quashed his conviction last year and set him free. Eastman is set to launch a stay application to prevent that trial from ever taking place, on the basis it cannot now be conducted fairly. He is also expected to seek the judge presiding over the case, acting Justice Anthony Whealy, be removed.........His lawyers had issued subpoenas to the Australian Federal Police and Victorian Police, seeking sensitive information relating to a witness expected to give evidence in the second trial, should it take place. The defence says the evidence of the  witness is important to their case and would tend to be exculpatory of Eastman, the court heard. But the federal and Victorian police forces both claimed public interest immunity, a principle that allows evidence to be kept secret if it is clearly in the interest of the public. Acting Justice Whealy ruled on that claim on Wednesday and upheld the immunity claims of the police. A small group of lawyers for Eastman will be able to gain restricted access to some of the confidential material, and to redacted versions of other documents. But some aspects of the evidence will be kept entirely secret from them. Eastman's barrister Christopher Boyce, SC, told the court that would mean that the identity of the witness, whose evidence would be "crucial" to the defence, would be hidden from a jury. Mr Boyce said the situation would create "extreme prejudice" for Eastman. He said the prosecution was likely to attack the witness' reliability, making it crucial that the jury members were fully able to assess him or her. "That witness should be viewed by the jury," he said. Acting Justice Whealy said directions could overcome any prejudice arising from the way the witness gave evidence."

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