EDITORIAL:  "David Eastman inquiry tested the legal system," published by the Canberra Times on June 1, 2014.

GIST: "The case was not overwhelming, and there was material which pointed to an alternative hypothesis – in effect, that Winchester was murdered by organised drug criminals. Moreover, it was clear that Eastman had not received a fair trial and had been denied a fair chance of acquittal. Key evidence against him was deeply flawed, and Eastman had not had the full benefit of disclosure by police and prosecutors of information known to them that could have helped his case. Martin says that had a 1996 court of appeal known what he now knows, it would have quashed the verdict as unsafe and ordered a retrial. This, after 20 years, is now impossible and Eastman ought to walk free, with a pardon......... But more than a want of detachment was involved. The failure to properly scrutinise and reproduce the evidence of the key scientific witness, particularly when it was clear he lacked objectivity, was inexcusable. The tendency to take wrong scientific conclusions as read was the more incompetent and unprofessional, bearing in mind that the investigation occurred after widespread publicity to significant miscarriages of justice caused by relying on forensic evidence: the Chamberlain case and the Splatt case. Police and prosecutors did refer ''findings'' for external analysis, but those invited to comment were invited to assume that tests had been done as claimed, and results found as claimed – assumptions that were wrong. Even then, serious reservations from international experts were concealed from the jury and the Eastman team.........Eastman has been in jail for nearly 20 years. He no longer appears to be mentally ill, but it can be expected that his reintegration into the community will be difficult, quite probably a test of the community's patience as much as his own. But in this context it is worth remembering that he is in part as he is because of a significant miscarriage of justice. It is not good enough to remark that Acting Justice Martin thinks that he was rightly one of the objects of police suspicion. What the judge has found is that police failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt, and in the common law system, that means he is as entitled to be regarded as not guilty as someone actually found to be innocent."