Thursday, April 26, 2018

Scott Austic: Western Australia: White elephant case: A very troubling more than decade-old Australian case: Calls for his release focus on key evidence used to convict him: A blood-stained cigarette packet and a knife identified as the murder weapon: There are elements of a magic show in the prosecution's case: The cigarette packet stained with Ms. Thorne's blood was visible in later crime scene photos - but not in the originals, Hmmmm! ABC News reports that West Australia's Attorney-General has refered the conviction to the Court of Appeal, as per the story below. An extraordinary investigative 3-part video called 'Framed' was televised by "Sunday Night." The series can be accessed at the link below. It' s a 'must see.' We will be following developments closely. Harold Levy. Publisher. The Charles Smith Blog.

Image result for "white elephant"

In the years since I started publishing this Blog I have become increasingly disturbed by the 'white elephant' in the room: Sheer, unadulterated, willful   misconduct in the criminal justice system - much  of it involving forensic evidence - committed by lab technicians,  pathologists, police officers, prosecutors and others.  Think Annie Dookhan; Think Sonia Farak; Think David Kofoed; Think Charles Smith; Think Ken Anderson; Think Gene Morrison.  I have therefore decided to run this image of a white elephant at the top of every applicable post henceforth, to draw our reader's attention to   what I see as a major problem in all too many criminal justice system's - my own included.  Harold Levy; Publisher: The Charles Smith Blog;

"Reformers have for years recommended that all forensic labs be independent from law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies' and this is a key reform promoted by The Justice Project (2008). But fixing these problems is only half the answer' because half of the wrongful convictions attributed to misleading forensic evidence involved deliberate forensic fraud' evidence tampering' and/or perjury.
From "The Elephant in the Crime Lab," by co-authored by Sheila Berry and Larry Ytuarte; Forensic Examiner; Spring, 2009;


STORY: "Scott Austic's conviction for murder of Stacey Thorne sent for appeal by WA Attorney-General," published by ABC News.

GIST: "WA's Attorney-General has agreed to refer a decade-old conviction over the murder of a pregnant woman to the Court of Appeal, following concerns raised about some of the evidence in the case. Scott Austic's conviction over the 2007 murder of 35-year-old Stacey Thorne in Boddington, south-east of Perth, will be considered by the appeals court following a petition by the jailed man.
Ms Thorne was stabbed 21 times and left to die. She was 22 weeks pregnant at the time of her death, with Austic's trial in 2009 told he was the likely father of the baby and killed Ms Thorne because he did not want her to have his child. Austic was found guilty of murder and jailed for a minimum of 25 years. But issues surrounding that conviction have long been in the public domain, with former Governor Malcolm McCusker having advocated for the case to be reviewed. The Corruption and Crime Commission also reviewed the case, which Attorney-General John Quigley said was part of the reason he had accepted a recommendation that it be re-examined. "The CCC noted, however, that there were potential concerns in relation to aspects of the evidence against Mr Austic, including in relation to a cigarette packet and the knife identified as the murder weapon," Mr Quigley said. "I have accepted the Solicitor General's advice that public confidence in the administration of justice requires that those concerns be fully addressed in an independent, open and transparent way. "I hope that the examination by the court of matters that have been the subject of public comment for some years will finally bring speculation about this case to an end." Among the issues investigated by the CCC were claims a cigarette packet stained with Ms Thorne's blood was visible in later crime scene photos but not the originals. Austic pleaded not guilty to the murder and lost an appeal against his conviction, before unsuccessfully petitioning for a second appeal. Mr Quigley's decision to now exercise his power to refer the matter to the Court of Appeal is a rare move. It is also something his predecessor and now shadow attorney-general Michael Mischin declined to do in the Austic case. The Government is planning to change the law to allow convicted people to launch a second appeal against a conviction straight to the state's highest court, without needing the Attorney-General's approval.

The entire story can be found at:

See the three part 'Sunday Night' video at the link below:  "To police, the brutal murder of popular teacher’s aide Stacey Thorne was an open and shut case. Very quickly they had her lover, Scott Austic, in their sights. They had the murder weapon, a knife discarded near Stacey’s home. They had Scott’s DNA on a drink can found on the road outside her house and, on his cigarette pack, were traces of Stacey’s blood. Within days, police had Scott in custody. And in no time at all, he was doing hard time – 25 years’ jail for Stacey’s murder.  But Scott’s mother and daughter were convinced he didn’t do it. And now a team of lawyers and forensic experts believe they can prove his innocence.  In this major Sunday Night investigation, guest reporter Michael Usher presents the convincing proof that crucial evidence against Scott was planted. That Scott Austic has languished in jail for 10 years now for a murder he probably didn’t commit. Eminent QC Malcolm McCusker describes Scott’s imprisonment as one of the greatest cases of injustice in Australia. And when you see this investigation, you will understand why. Producers: Michael Muntz, Mark Llewellyn, Duncan McNab, Gareth Harvey and Lisa Ryan."

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. 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: Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.