Saturday, November 21, 2015

Henry Keogh: (Aftermath 9) 'Guest Post' by Andrew L. Urban: "The dark fairytale of Australian Justice." ......"Like in a dark fairy tale, the powerful forces that are commissioned to protect justice sometimes end up assaulting it."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am a fervent admirer of  Andrew L. Urban,  editor of the intense, eclectic,  provocative Blog  "Pursue Democracy."  In view of his interest in Henry Keogh case - as reflected in incisive columns over the years -  I have asked Andrew to contribute a 'guest post' to this Blog in the aftermath of the  prosecution's decision not to proceed to trial - and he has graciously responded with "The dark fairytale of Australian Justice."  Andrew is a journalist and publisher, with over 30 years experience and over 2,000 freelance articles published under his by-line in major newspapers and magazines. He also publishes the 18 year old online movie magazine He launched his blog,  in June 2011, and has since published many articles on miscarriages of justice, among other subjects. His first article on the Sue Neil-Fraser case was published on August 15, 2013. On behalf of our readers Andrew, many thanks!

Harold Levy' Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog.

November 21, 2015
By Andrew L. Urban (Editor,

"Once upon a time in a land far awayHenry Keogh of Adelaide, South Australia, was sentenced to life for the murder of his 29 year old fiancée Anna-Jane Cheney. On March 18, 1994, they had had a pleasant evening out, over some wine (the autopsy showed her blood alcohol level at 0.1, a matter not raised in the legal proceedings) and potato wedges. While he went to briefly visit his mother, Anna-Jane relaxed in her bath. When he returned she was dead, still in the bath. Keogh tried urgent CPR after calling the ambulance, but Anna-Jane could not be revived.

The circumstantial evidence was scant; the forensic evidence was wrong.

The appeal court earlier this year (March 2015) called the forensic evidence of discredited Dr Colin Manock “unwarranted speculation”, and accepted the contrary forensic evidence of four experts that it was an accident, not a murder.

Evidently ignoring that judgment, in May 2015, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Adam Kimber, set the date for a re-trial of Keogh to commence on March 8, 2016. On November 13, 2015, Kimber abandoned the trial, claiming “there was no reasonable prospect of conviction”. He cited the illness of a key witness as the reason. The key witness is the retired Dr Manock, whose reputation has been thoroughly trashed by now. (In a disturbing development, Dr Manock is reported to have told a friend by phone that he was ‘fit as a fiddle’.)

This instance of questionable decisions by a state prosecutor is the latest to undermine public confidence in the justice system, and not just in South Australia. It also raises the question of legal oversight of prosecutors; is there any? Who or what can question Kimber’s decision to put the State to the expense of a re-trial in such circumstances, and Keogh to such cruel (mis)treatment? He had already served 20 years for a crime the courts agree he didn’t commit.
There is troubling history here: Kimber opposed the admission of every item of evidence put forward by the appellant in the Keogh appeal. He was unsuccessful on every count. He even opposed the admission of the expert report which the prosecution had itself obtained in 2004 – again unsuccessfully. Does this seem like the actions of someone seeking justice? What is he seeking?

Quite apart from questions of basic common sense and human decency. Kimber ignored fundamental legal principles. To whom is he answerable? Who can challenge his decisions?  Will the justice system self-correct? In this case alone, procedural rules in the system have effectively blocked all attempts to secure a hearing on the merits of the case – and Kimber’s decision to re-try Keogh put a further limitation on public discussion of the matter – until now. 

And now, public discussion should focus on the specific issue of legal responsibilities of prosecutors, given other examples of poor decisions by prosecutors, notably in the 2010 murder trial of Sue Neill-Fraser (in another land far away, Tasmania). Here, DPP Tim Ellis was allowed by the court to speculate as to how a missing man was murdered on board the yacht he co-owned with the accused, his partner of 18 years. Trashing the most basic legal principles, Ellis did not produce any evidence for his speculation; not the body, not the murder weapon, not a witness, not a credible motive.

As in Keogh, the circumstantial evidence was scant; the forensic evidence was wrong; much of it was inadmissible, in fact.

In the distant land of New South Wales, in 2008 Gordon Wood was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend by throwing her from the cliff at The Gap in Sydney in 1995. Severe criticism was levelled by the appeal judge at the prosecutor who effectively reversed the onus of proof by asking some 50 questions to which it was thought Wood should provide the answers. As the judge said, in this and other critical matters, the prosecutor argued for conclusions based on his own speculative propositions.

These and other Australian miscarriages of justice where prosecutors have clearly flouted the rule of law provide grounds for a sweeping inquiry, a Royal Commission perhaps. In the meantime, it is the media’s duty to shine a light on such transgressions.  It is to be hoped that Adam Kimber’s actions will, ironically, lead to a long overdue inspection of prosecutorial procedures.

Like in a dark fairy tale, the powerful forces that are commissioned to protect justice sometimes end up assaulting it. 

Note: A respected former senior public prosecutor is a friend of mine; I do not harbor a bias against prosecutors, but nor will I ignore conduct that is inconsistent with the stated principles and responsibilities of the office.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.
The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:
Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:  
I look forward to hearing from readers at:;  Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;