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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
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.

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