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Getting on David Eastman’s guest list

By 25 August 2014 10

justice-walks

Exactly who is on that list of people David Harold Eastman must not approach as part of his bail conditions – as he awaits a decision about a new trial for the murder of Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester? Am I on it? Are you?

There are 241 names on his bail list (so far withheld). But this figure seems unrealistically small when you imagine the number of people who might have a reason to be concerned, such as the people from public and private life that Eastman used to ring up and abuse and threaten or even accost in public prior to his 1995 sentence for (what we all understood was going to be, but now might not be) life imprisonment.

It could include from 200 to 300 people he is alleged to have assaulted/accosted/menaced/threatened, including various public officials, police, his neighbors and individuals he met in parking areas.

Nor does the list seem big enough for those involved in the lengthy police investigation – at close on five years one of the longest murder investigations in Australian police history? What about the police (senior and uniformed) and their families, and police staff and their families?

What of the numerous members of his own (regularly sacked and shouted at) legal counsel, court officials, judges, barristers, prosecutors, public servants (Federal and ACT), politicians and politicians’ staff members and – yes – even journalists?

The Full Bench of the ACT Supreme Court decided to quash the conviction after an inquiry headed by Justice Brian Ross Martin concluded there had been a “substantial miscarriage of justice” in Eastman’s trial and recommended the conviction be quashed. However, Martin said he was “fairly certain” that Eastman was guilty, a finding based on (of all things) a “nagging doubt”.

So now Eastman is ‘at large’ so to speak and is on bail pending a new trial. But what happened to our our jury system, the cornerstone of democracy and freedom? Has trial by jury been turned on its head?How can this be overturned – you might reasonably ask – only by a handful of members of the legal profession, acting virtually alone?

I am sure the ACT Government didn’t want a retrial. The first trial alone was probably the most costly in Canberra’s history. Colin Winchester’s family certainly didn’t want a retrial. The Australian Federal police didn’t want a retrial. There was no public outcry as I recall.

It now turns out that it was all done behind the scenes and out of public view. The person in David Eastman’s corner who has worked on his behalf is his initial public defender, Terry O’Donnell, who has revealed that he worked on the Eastman case from retirement for at least six of the past 19 years. His book-sized report on the David Eastman case runs for some 130,000 words.

The quashing of the original trial leaves the ACT government and the prosecution with a serious dilemma. It is now almost 20 years since the trial and many of the participants are retired or perhaps no longer alive. Personal recollections may no longer have any validity. The circumstantial evidence is understood to be very strong but there is no guarantee of new trial or of the success of a new trial. And what of the forensic evidence, which was slammed by the inquiry?

It is well known that David Eastman did everything he could to disrupt his trial, and in the process undermining his own case, regularly yelling abuse and even throwing a water jug at the judge. He chanted aloud during witness testimony and called the judge a “lying c…”.  He sacked his own counsel on 11 occasions. Later, while in prison, he reportedly used to fling gobs of excrement at prison warders.

One might conclude that Eastman has some serious psychological problems. Or you could argue that his behaviour helped to open a window of opportunity for a later claim about unfair treatment in court leading to a mistrial.

Meanwhile, how do we get our names on that list?

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10 Responses to
Getting on David Eastman’s guest list
XO_VSOP 9:43 am
25 Aug 14
#1

I think hes not guilty Peter , however isn’t it a shame after 19 years in our justice system he has not been rehabilitated for his anger and anxieties, only proven last week and over the years with parole hearings. Has he passed psychiatrist test? Is that a condition of his bail?

Pork Hunt 10:26 am
25 Aug 14
#2

What happens if he breaches his bail conditions? The conviction has been quashed so he can’t exactly complete his sentence.

bundah 10:45 am
25 Aug 14
#3

If there’s one thing for certain ie. far too much emphasis is placed on forensic science which has been proven to be problematic in a number of cases around the world. It appears that there was sufficient evidence aside from the flawed forensic evidence to convict him beyond reasonable doubt of Winchester’s assassination. One only need read para 86 of the full courts judgement to understand why Acting Justice Martin said he was fairly certain of Eastman’s guilt. The nagging doubt he had, I believe, was in relation to the forensics and Dr Roantree’s evidence.

dungfungus 1:35 pm
25 Aug 14
#4

Pork Hunt said :

What happens if he breaches his bail conditions? The conviction has been quashed so he can’t exactly complete his sentence.

Did they let him get his Ruger back?

portal0001@lycos.com 1:53 pm
25 Aug 14
#5

he didn’t do it, old son. He had no connection with the Winchester murder.

Eastman was a an extreme idiot for making comments about “police corruption” in December 1988. Police have a difficult and stressful job and it seems very foolish for someone to wilfully get on the wrong side of them.

bundah 3:26 pm
25 Aug 14
#6

portal0001@lycos.com said :

he didn’t do it, old son. He had no connection with the Winchester murder.

Eastman was a an extreme idiot for making comments about “police corruption” in December 1988. Police have a difficult and stressful job and it seems very foolish for someone to wilfully get on the wrong side of them.

The only thing we know for certain is that we weren’t there when Winchester was shot so we rely on others to make that judgement based on their investigative skills and available evidence. So to say he had nothing to do with it would suggest you have some superior insight that they didn’t, surely not?

portal0001@lycos.com 5:39 pm
25 Aug 14
#7

bundah, From the inquiry headed by Judge Martin in 2014.

“1835. I am unable to agree with the submission that the case is ‘overwhelming’. While a strong circumstantial case remains, based on the admissible and properly tested evidence the case for the prosecution is not overwhelming. There is also material pointing to an alternative hypothesis consistent with innocence, the strength of which is unknown.
1836. I am fairly certain that the applicant is guilty of the murder of the deceased, but a nagging doubt remains. Regardless of my opinion as to the applicant’s guilt, in my view the substantial miscarriage of justice suffered by the applicant should not be allowed to stand uncorrected. To allow such a miscarriage of justice to stand uncorrected would be contrary to the fundamental principles that guide the administration of justice in Australia and would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Allowing such a miscarriage of justice to stand uncorrected would severely undermine public confidence in the administration of justice”.

I could not find para 86, so I cannot check your line of reasoning as to why the judge was “fairly certain” of Eastman’s guilt. :

banco 7:51 pm
25 Aug 14
#8

bundah said :

portal0001@lycos.com said :

he didn’t do it, old son. He had no connection with the Winchester murder.

Eastman was a an extreme idiot for making comments about “police corruption” in December 1988. Police have a difficult and stressful job and it seems very foolish for someone to wilfully get on the wrong side of them.

The only thing we know for certain is that we weren’t there when Winchester was shot so we rely on others to make that judgement based on their investigative skills and available evidence. So to say he had nothing to do with it would suggest you have some superior insight that they didn’t, surely not?

Given how incompetent the AFP investigation was I wouldn’t trust anything those clowns say.

bundah 7:56 pm
25 Aug 14
#9

portal0001@lycos.com said :

bundah, From the inquiry headed by Judge Martin in 2014.

“1835. I am unable to agree with the submission that the case is ‘overwhelming’. While a strong circumstantial case remains, based on the admissible and properly tested evidence the case for the prosecution is not overwhelming. There is also material pointing to an alternative hypothesis consistent with innocence, the strength of which is unknown.
1836. I am fairly certain that the applicant is guilty of the murder of the deceased, but a nagging doubt remains. Regardless of my opinion as to the applicant’s guilt, in my view the substantial miscarriage of justice suffered by the applicant should not be allowed to stand uncorrected. To allow such a miscarriage of justice to stand uncorrected would be contrary to the fundamental principles that guide the administration of justice in Australia and would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Allowing such a miscarriage of justice to stand uncorrected would severely undermine public confidence in the administration of justice”.

I could not find para 86, so I cannot check your line of reasoning as to why the judge was “fairly certain” of Eastman’s guilt. :

You will find para 86 attached. This is part of the strong circumstantial evidence the full court of the supreme court have acknowledged

http://www.courts.act.gov.au/supreme/judgment/view/8380/title/eastman-v-director-public-prosecutions

Smithers 6:48 pm
27 Aug 14
#10

bundah said :

If there’s one thing for certain ie. far too much emphasis is placed on forensic science which has been proven to be problematic in a number of cases around the world. It appears that there was sufficient evidence aside from the flawed forensic evidence to convict him beyond reasonable doubt of Winchester’s assassination. One only need read para 86 of the full courts judgement to understand why Acting Justice Martin said he was fairly certain of Eastman’s guilt. The nagging doubt he had, I believe, was in relation to the forensics and Dr Roantree’s evidence.

But the evidence issue isn’t really in question. Even if there was enough evidence to convict, as you claim, that will all have to be re-assessed. The point is Big Bundah brain, is that he didn’t receive a fair trial. Period. The system hasn’t failed you. Certain police and DPP were complicit seeing to that. We should all be grateful.

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