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Two years later Justice Refshauge says not guilty to sex offences

johnboy 29 April 2011 24

Spare a thought for Shawn Elrick. The Canberra Times reports that even though his trial over grubby teen sex charges (all involved were teenagers) ended in September 2009 Justice Refshauge has waited until yesterday to find him not guilty.

Justice Refshauge said while Mr Elrick appeared to have lied to police after his arrest, the version of events he gave at the trial was corroborated by other witnesses.

But while the judge did not believe the two girls deliberately lied under oath he was concerned with inconsistencies between their accounts and those of other witnesses.

”The inconsistencies in the evidence of the complainants leave me with a reasonable doubt as to whether the allegations have been made out and I must therefore acquit MrElrick,” he wrote in his judgment.


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24 Responses to Two years later Justice Refshauge says not guilty to sex offences
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welkin31 welkin31 3:02 pm 02 May 11

Re my #19 – I am reading “Sins of the Brother” and the similarity struck me – inconsistent witnesses.

Lookout Smithers Lookout Smithers 11:26 am 02 May 11

Tooks said :

MrGordon said :

Tooks –
You’re correct – he didn”t have to prove the was innocent, and in the ACT it doesn’t even matter if the DPP prove he was guilty – if there is ANY doubt ( and not beyond reasonable doubt) but any doubt then it’s NOT GUILTY

I does seem that way.

Here is what I found strange in the judgement:

“The demeanour of the girls on arrival at Mr Connelly’s house is powerful evidence to support their allegations as is the consistency of their version of the actual alleged incidents themselves. On the other hand, this consistency, worryingly, does not include surrounding events, contemporaneous with the alleged incidents.” [emphasis mine]

So their evidence about the actual alleged crimes were consistent, but because they got other minor details wrong, he finds reasonable doubt? Is it not reasonable to think two young girls will recall the most distressing events of the night with clarity, but have less reliable recall about the other stuff (especially 18mths after the event)?

Tooks that is hearsay and you know it. You can make a frown at court and they take it as being defensive. You need more than that to seal it. I have a funny story but its actually really sad, there were 7 witnesses in court against a teacher. 7!! And he walked. Though by that stage I didn’t even stay for the verdict as I was bored stupid and woke up to things. 7 witnesses and he walked. Still if my witness didn’t die before trial it was a done deal. But he died. Courts heh.

Lookout Smithers Lookout Smithers 11:08 am 02 May 11

welkin31 said :

In our entire police-criminal-justice-system – many wrongdoers are never apprehended and charged.
Many again are not convicted.
That’s our system that has evolved.
This case reminds me a little of the rape case that Ivan Milat beat in 1974. Stemmed from when he picked up two young women in Liverpool 1971 and they ended up in Goulburn claiming he had threatened their lives – one of them claimed he raped her. Anyway – in 1974 they turned out to be poor witness’s and he walked free. I recall they had some history of psychiatric problems before and after ’71.

Just curiously, how does this case involving minors in Canberra, remind you of Ivan Milat allegedly picking up two women in Liverpool back in the 70s? How do you arrive there? Should we be frightened?

Tooks Tooks 10:56 am 02 May 11

MrGordon said :

Tooks –
You’re correct – he didn”t have to prove the was innocent, and in the ACT it doesn’t even matter if the DPP prove he was guilty – if there is ANY doubt ( and not beyond reasonable doubt) but any doubt then it’s NOT GUILTY

I does seem that way.

Here is what I found strange in the judgement:

“The demeanour of the girls on arrival at Mr Connelly’s house is powerful evidence to support their allegations as is the consistency of their version of the actual alleged incidents themselves. On the other hand, this consistency, worryingly, does not include surrounding events, contemporaneous with the alleged incidents.” [emphasis mine]

So their evidence about the actual alleged crimes were consistent, but because they got other minor details wrong, he finds reasonable doubt? Is it not reasonable to think two young girls will recall the most distressing events of the night with clarity, but have less reliable recall about the other stuff (especially 18mths after the event)?

colourful sydney racing identity colourful sydney racing identity 8:56 am 02 May 11

MrGordon said :

Another case of where ACT Law has failed. He didn’t prove his innocnence

You do realise that under Australian law you are not required to prove your innocence?

welkin31 welkin31 7:44 am 02 May 11

In our entire police-criminal-justice-system – many wrongdoers are never apprehended and charged.
Many again are not convicted.
That’s our system that has evolved.
This case reminds me a little of the rape case that Ivan Milat beat in 1974. Stemmed from when he picked up two young women in Liverpool 1971 and they ended up in Goulburn claiming he had threatened their lives – one of them claimed he raped her. Anyway – in 1974 they turned out to be poor witness’s and he walked free. I recall they had some history of psychiatric problems before and after ’71.

Skidbladnir Skidbladnir 12:52 pm 01 May 11

Bearing in mind that court cases require sufficient evidence of guilt to support a case beyond all reasonable doubts, all it requires is any doubt which is sufficiently reasonable to let someone off.
The price of being able to use reasonable doubt is that when your entire case is reliant on a “he says she says” of digital penetration, the evidence is going to rely heavily on witness credibility.
Which is exactly what has happened here.
(Not “proof of innocence” MrGordon, burden of proof lies with those who lay charges)

To that end, the inconsistencies of the two girls do seem kind of strange, considering that according to the judgement transcript the girls were in the same room at the time, and aware of what was happening to the other.

But two years to return a verdict is quite the noteworthy delay for everyone involved.
Do we have any other verdicts pending for longer than two years?

Lookout Smithers Lookout Smithers 12:39 pm 01 May 11

MrGordon said :

dvaey –

Why don”t you read more than one page before enlightenning us with your expert opinion
.
It’s very simple – a 12 year old and a 14 year old will no doubt have inconsistancies in their statements and view of events . However the loop hole in the ACT is not what the evidence is, but can you bring in ANY doubt – if so, then it has be NOT GUILTY.

Lookout Smithers –

Your correct, the majority of incidents never get to court, and why – well there is next to no chance of getting a conviction (dvaey – why don”t you read more than a page to find out if that is the case… and maybe get back to us with the findings of your in depth research)

The other issue with this case (and many others) has been the time taken for the Judge to rule on his findings (just in case it wasn”t on the page dvaey read – this trial was conducted on the 23/24 September 2009).

So, could inconsistancies in the versions of events from both girls occur when the charges are laid in January 2008 and the trial is in September 2009? (Maybe we should ask dvaey for the expert opinion that we have come to expect from dvaey……..LETS NOT)

You do know that the courts are the last place to go if you are a victim seeking sympathy. You may need to contact victims support groups. Courts are about administering justice. The truth and the facts have very little to do with each other.

Lookout Smithers Lookout Smithers 12:35 pm 01 May 11

Tooks said :

MrGordon said :

Another case of where ACT Law has failed. He didn’t prove his innocnence, his legal team proved some minor inconsistancies which by law meant he had to me found not guilty.

He doesn’t have to prove his innocence.

Perfectly stated tooksie!!! Glad some one said it!

Lookout Smithers Lookout Smithers 12:33 pm 01 May 11

MrGordon said :

dvaey –

Why don”t you read more than one page before enlightenning us with your expert opinion
.
It’s very simple – a 12 year old and a 14 year old will no doubt have inconsistancies in their statements and view of events . However the loop hole in the ACT is not what the evidence is, but can you bring in ANY doubt – if so, then it has be NOT GUILTY.

Lookout Smithers –

Your correct, the majority of incidents never get to court, and why – well there is next to no chance of getting a conviction (dvaey – why don”t you read more than a page to find out if that is the case… and maybe get back to us with the findings of your in depth research)

The other issue with this case (and many others) has been the time taken for the Judge to rule on his findings (just in case it wasn”t on the page dvaey read – this trial was conducted on the 23/24 September 2009).

So, could inconsistancies in the versions of events from both girls occur when the charges are laid in January 2008 and the trial is in September 2009? (Maybe we should ask dvaey for the expert opinion that we have come to expect from dvaey……..LETS NOT)

Yeah that judgement is about 30 pages. I read it to get informed about the case. I am just going by what is in evidence on record? You know something the courts have not been made aware of?

MrGordon MrGordon 12:32 pm 01 May 11

Tooks –
You’re correct – he didn”t have to prove the was innocent, and in the ACT it doesn’t even matter if the DPP prove he was guilty – if there is ANY doubt ( and not beyond reasonable doubt) but any doubt then it’s NOT GUILTY

Tooks Tooks 11:29 am 01 May 11

MrGordon said :

Another case of where ACT Law has failed. He didn’t prove his innocnence, his legal team proved some minor inconsistancies which by law meant he had to me found not guilty.

He doesn’t have to prove his innocence.

MrGordon MrGordon 11:15 am 01 May 11

dvaey –

Why don”t you read more than one page before enlightenning us with your expert opinion
.
It’s very simple – a 12 year old and a 14 year old will no doubt have inconsistancies in their statements and view of events . However the loop hole in the ACT is not what the evidence is, but can you bring in ANY doubt – if so, then it has be NOT GUILTY.

Lookout Smithers –

Your correct, the majority of incidents never get to court, and why – well there is next to no chance of getting a conviction (dvaey – why don”t you read more than a page to find out if that is the case… and maybe get back to us with the findings of your in depth research)

The other issue with this case (and many others) has been the time taken for the Judge to rule on his findings (just in case it wasn”t on the page dvaey read – this trial was conducted on the 23/24 September 2009).

So, could inconsistancies in the versions of events from both girls occur when the charges are laid in January 2008 and the trial is in September 2009? (Maybe we should ask dvaey for the expert opinion that we have come to expect from dvaey……..LETS NOT)

Lookout Smithers Lookout Smithers 10:49 am 01 May 11

Having read the judgment, it is stated that all but the complainants were reliable and credible.

Lookout Smithers Lookout Smithers 10:32 am 01 May 11

dvaey said :

MrGordon said :

Another case of where ACT Law has failed. He didn’t prove his innocnence, his legal team proved some minor inconsistancies which by law meant he had to me found not guilty.

Maybe I read a different page to you but I read “the judge did not believe the two girls delibrately lied under oath he was concerned with inconsistencies”. This sounds like the judge in the case had worries, I see nothing about the defence suggesting that.

MrGordon said :

Spare a thought for Shawn Elrick – not likely, I’ll be sparing my thoughts for his victims.

Maybe they should have kept their story straight? Their story didnt line up with the stories told by other witnesses. The justice system might be broken, but it works on evidence and people telling their story which is backed up by others (not proved inconsistent by others). Should we simply throw any 19 year old in jail if a 14 year old makes an allegation (that cant be backed up)? Should we lower the evidentiary standards when children are giving evidence, so that inconsistent stories can be accepted by the judges as fact?

Here here. It is dangerous to convict on dubious evidence. If the crown cannot prove it beyond reasonable doubt, then we don’t convict them. Though I am sure nobody in the room thought he was innocent. I waited 5 years to get an outcome, not the one we wanted but it was an outcome.

Lookout Smithers Lookout Smithers 10:29 am 01 May 11

MrGordon said :

Another case of where ACT Law has failed. He didn’t prove his innocnence, his legal team proved some minor inconsistancies which by law meant he had to me found not guilty.

Spare a thought for Shawn Elrick – not likely, I’ll be sparing my thoughts for his victims.

Niced bias on this story too – “all involved were teenagers”
(WRONG…..the girls where 12 and 14 and Shawn was 19)

Maybe there is comfort that it was heard by the courts? By that I mean there a more cases that never make it that far. Spare a thought?

dvaey dvaey 10:11 am 01 May 11

MrGordon said :

Another case of where ACT Law has failed. He didn’t prove his innocnence, his legal team proved some minor inconsistancies which by law meant he had to me found not guilty.

Maybe I read a different page to you but I read “the judge did not believe the two girls delibrately lied under oath he was concerned with inconsistencies”. This sounds like the judge in the case had worries, I see nothing about the defence suggesting that.

MrGordon said :

Spare a thought for Shawn Elrick – not likely, I’ll be sparing my thoughts for his victims.

Maybe they should have kept their story straight? Their story didnt line up with the stories told by other witnesses. The justice system might be broken, but it works on evidence and people telling their story which is backed up by others (not proved inconsistent by others). Should we simply throw any 19 year old in jail if a 14 year old makes an allegation (that cant be backed up)? Should we lower the evidentiary standards when children are giving evidence, so that inconsistent stories can be accepted by the judges as fact?

Lefty Lefty 8:24 pm 30 Apr 11

And they wonder why crimes go unreported!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lookout Smithers Lookout Smithers 7:22 pm 30 Apr 11

How bout we spare a thought for any victims of crimes such as these. It is a shame that the justice system deals in justice and not sympathy as well.

Deref Deref 5:12 pm 30 Apr 11

“Justice delayed is justice denied.”

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