Saturday, June 7, 2014

David Harold Eastman: (Aftermath 12: Inquiry report) The Australian's fascinating story (published before the inquiry) on Terry O'Donnell, David Eastman's trial lawyer who believes that, "an innocent mentally ill man ended up in jail for life, and the real perpetrators got away with the biggest organised crime assassination in our history." (Must Read. HL);

STORY: "Terry O'Donnell is still on the Winchester murder case," by Richard Guilliatt, published by the Australian on February 23,  2013.

SUB-HEADING: "Terry O'Donnell has a clear memory of his first meeting with the man whose fate would become the "unfinished business" of his life.

GIST: "It's a matter of record that Eastman was found guilty of Winchester's murder in November 1995 and sentenced to life imprisonment, an outcome hailed at the time as a triumph of police forensic work. Terry O'Donnell isn't the only lawyer in Australia who has long harboured grave doubts about that verdict, and about Eastman's mental fitness to stand trial. But by 2001 O'Donnell was out of the law and running a winery on the 100ha  property he still shares with his wife, Jenny, north of Canberra. He'd boxed up his few legal papers, parked his 1930s sailing boat Judith Pihl under an elm tree and settled into life in a ramshackle brick-and-fibro farmhouse far from crims and cops. It was the chance remark of a lawyer friend six years ago that reawakened the niggling memory of Eastman's conviction. O'Donnell started leafing through old files, then poring over thousands of pages of court transcripts, secret police reports, witness statements and judicial findings. Immersed in a raft of evidence never presented at Eastman's trial, O'Donnell started writing, and by 2011 he had a 130,000-word manuscript which argued that police had missed the real perpetrators of Colin Winchester's murder. A year later, the unpublished book became the basis of a court submission which O'Donnell lodged on Eastman's behalf. That submission led the ACT Supreme Court last August to order a new inquiry into Eastman's conviction, effectively reopening this most contentious murder case. There are more than a few people in the law and the police who think that O'Donnell is either woefully misguided or blinded by conspiracy theories, and that the world is a much safer place with Eastman off the streets. "He's been pursuing Eastman's cause for years," notes one barrister, "but it always seems he can't see the wood for the trees." If O'Donnell is right, however, some eminent reputations could take a battering, for it's his thesis that Colin Winchester was murdered by Italian organised crime and that police and prosecutors sent an innocent mentally ill man to prison. Eastman's cause has attracted some heavyweight legal support - the formidable Victorian barrister Robert Richter QC last year argued his case for a new inquiry. It has also ended Terry O'Donnell's retirement - the former public defender appeared as Richter's junior counsel and is briefed to be part of Eastman's legal team when the inquiry opens next month......... O'Donnell argues that for all his offensive behaviour and explosions of rage, Eastman is not a danger to the community and never was. But more fundamentally he argues the "pure line" of a public defender, that an innocent man should not be in prison. "Good riddance' isn't the answer, and anyone who says that just doesn't understand the principles of justice. I believe we've done Eastman a terrible injustice and in a real sense we'll have to live with the consequences, financially and socially. "For what it's worth, I argue that this is the most significant miscarriage of justice case ever in Australia, more so even than Lindy Chamberlain," he says. "With this case an innocent mentally ill man ended up in jail for life, and the real perpetrators got away with the biggest organised crime assassination in our history.""

The entire story can be found at:

See recent Canberra Times story in which Terry O'Donnell critices poisonous comments  directed against Eastman in the media following release of Judge Martin's report  recommending that the murder conviction be quashed and Eastman pardoned, including some from "former police."..."Lawyer and long-time advocate Terry O’Donnell, who has spoken recently with Eastman, criticised “poisonous” comments made in the media since Friday. Some of the comments, including from former police, could potentially be met with defamation action, Mr O’Donnell said.  “I think it’s time that the poison stopped,” he said. He said Eastman was entitled to get on with his life."


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