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High Court slaps down ACT Court of Appeal

By johnboy 22 March 2007 19

It’s a grim day for the judges of the ACT Court of Appeal.

The High Court has pushed out a media release slamming the decision to set aside Steven Hillier’s conviction for the murder of Ana Louise Hardwick.

By a 4-1 majority, the Court remitted the matter to the Court of Appeal for rehearing. One member of the High Court would have ordered a retrial. The Court held that the majority in the Court of Appeal had identified facts which, examined in isolation from other evidence, were treated as requiring the conclusion that it was not open to the jury to be satisfied of his guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The High Court held that the Court of Appeal failed to consider whether, on the whole of the evidence, all of it circumstantial, it was open to the jury to be persuaded beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Hillier was guilty. Neither at trial, nor on appeal, was a circumstantial case to be considered in piecemeal fashion. The conclusion that a guilty verdict was not open to the jury could only be reached if some aspects of the evidence were assessed separately from the rest. The Court held that the reasoning of the Court of Appeal majority was erroneous.

It will be interesting to see what the Appeals Court does when they take a second swing at the matter.

What’s Your opinion?


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19 Responses to
High Court slaps down ACT Court of Appeal
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RM 4:59 am 25 Mar 07

It is quite an interesting venture to go and watch the Magistrates Court – on any day. People with multiple drink driving convictions simply getting another fine; people who have breached bail on numerous occassions, only to have a condition removed because it is too difficult for them to abide by (this actually happens).
The Hillier matter is really the tip of the icberg. For example, a certain Mr Wheatley, who was recently convicted of possessing thousands of child porn images/videos – suspended sentence. Justice Gray actually created a new defence for him – Internet Download Disorder. Whereby a person can’t help by download stuff. I too have that problem, but it just happens to NOT be child porn.
I encourage everyone out there to go and watch a Magistrates Court matter, it really makes you wonder how committed the Magistrates are to ridding society of recidivist offenders and punishing offenders. Rehab and reintergration are all valid options, but when a person continually offends, why do they keep getting chances?

Ingeegoodbee 3:56 pm 24 Mar 07

VG a lot of the time you simply state that you have a world of this or that experience, day to day whatever in dealing with endless whatever’s but I get the feeling that you never actualy explain how that places you in a position to refute another post critical of the ability or operation of the local police – it’s essentially flawed logic to say someone else is wrong in the opinion they hold, simply because you are in the police force and they are not. I think that the low brow ridicule simply cheapens the force of your argument. You obviously appear to have a wealth of experience but simply telling us that you have it, rather than what it is, leaves us all in the dark.

bigred 1:29 pm 24 Mar 07

Getting back to the Hillier thing. From what I have seen of DPPs around the country, they will be very reluctant to take a matter forward unless they are convinced that a court will convict. DPPs run their own scrutiny over the evidence, and a good DPP laywer will test/rehearse the evidence a proecution witness is likely to give. I have also noticed that the AFP does a pretty good to excellent job at the more serious end of the spectrum. My congratulations to the DPP for pursuing the appeal against the perverse and absurd Appeals Court decision in this case. Also good on the AFP for putting the jigsaw together so well.

Very Good 1:17 pm 24 Mar 07

Perhaps I should have said that there are many other people involved in law enforcement in this town apart from vg. Some of them may even be posting here. And be just as educated. There are problems on both sides of the fence. Incompetence from police in some cases, poor arguments from DPP in some cases, weak sentencing from judiciary in others. To lay the blame squarely at the feet of the judiciary is just a cop-out, that’s my argument.

DJ 12:03 pm 24 Mar 07

Very Good, how about doing yourself a favor and educating your opinion so you can actually back yourself up? Go into the Magistrates Court on Monday morning and listen to the matters going before the Magistrates. Listen to the seemingly endless petty breaches of bail that the offenders simply can’t abide by or the warrants for failing to appear…. big hint here is that the warrants for failing to appear are because the offender/s are busy breaking into you car or house instead of going to Court. They are out in the community because the Courts didn’t give them anything more than a slap on the wrist the last time they failed to abide by society’s rules.

To have a go at VG in a very petty manner like that wont cause him to spit the dummy and go hang himself. Matters don’t proceed to Court if there isn’t substance to them. Not all Magistrates are lacking like Higgins and some others I wont name but keep in mind that Higgins has a track record for poor performance. Perhaps Stanhope will get rid of him?

Very Good 11:08 am 24 Mar 07

Just the obligatory rider as well – preceeding statements were personal, not professional opinions.

simbo 10:30 am 24 Mar 07

Just wondering why, if VG thinks the judiciary in this town are a pack of incompetents, he thinks being praised in glowing terms by them is a good thing?

Very Good 10:11 am 24 Mar 07

Maybe there are more people involved in law enforcement in this town than just vg. Maybe they get tired of the incompetence of coppers as well. vg might well be supercop who gets praise for his performance – there are many others who aren’t.

vg 8:05 pm 23 Mar 07

I think its just his amateur attempts at getting a rise out of me. Big Al tried, failed and ran away. Maybe Very Good, who also borrowed my initials, is of the same spineless ilk.

People like them always bag me out at work. I always win in the end. What goes around, comes around

vandam 6:21 pm 23 Mar 07

very good, why do you constantly bag out coppers?

Sounds like you have nothing better to do. Maybe you just get off on telling coppers they suck.

Well try putting up with disease invested druggies everyday that spit at you and carry uncapped needles on them. Think about pulling down dead bodies hanging in a garage, or pulling dead children from car wrecks. Then of course there is putting up with people like you that just whinge and whine all the time.

But see Canberra is so full of middle class idiots that forget people of low class exist. This is the what Police deal with day in day out. But see I bet your one of these middle class people that choose to ignore this breed. I at least appreciate the job vg does. I certainly wouldn’t do it.

It’s not the Police that are failing, its the Government and judicial system.

Oh and on the Hillier case, what a great call Crispin and Higgins made at the appeal!!!!!
They are a pair of idiots. I think that is made clear by the stuff up with their decision.

vg 10:47 pm 22 Mar 07

and if you are going to quote me please do it properly

vg 10:47 pm 22 Mar 07

Yeah thats it, got it in one. My competence has never been questioned by the Courts, and has, to the contrary, been spoken of in quite glowing terms on numerous occasions.

In this case the highest Court in the land decided the ACT Court got it wrong, not me sweetie. But then again you’d have to have more than basic comprehension skills to nut that one out…maybe I expect too much from you, I apologise.

I’m also guessing you have nigh on nil Court experience to speak of, against the mountain that I possess but I’ll bear all that in mine next time a magistrate or judge in this town (and in other jurisdictions I might add) complements me on the professionalism and quality of my investigations.

Very Good 8:34 pm 22 Mar 07

‘No Justice in this town’…

Sounds like a whine from a copper who has the sads because their incompetence was regularly called out by the Courts to me. It’s much easier to pay out on the Judiciary for reaching what is considered a ‘wrong’ verdict than the coppers who are meant to be investigating competently.

vg 8:21 pm 22 Mar 07

I’m hoping they won’t be so reticent after this.

simbo 7:02 pm 22 Mar 07

It does say something about the DPP in this town, though, that they haven’t escalated more cases outside the hands of the local incompetents before now…

vg 6:41 pm 22 Mar 07

Another slap in the face for the judicial system in this town. When oh when will they align themselves with reality.

The finding is quite damning. There is no justice in the ACT. Maybe this will change things

Heavs 5:08 pm 22 Mar 07

Good. Right decision by the High Court.

johnboy 1:53 pm 22 Mar 07

The appeals court is going to re-hear the appeal, as opposed to the trial being conducted again.

seepi 1:46 pm 22 Mar 07

What is the difference between Retrying a case and Rehearing it? Anyone know?

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