Acting Justice Brian Martin. Photo: Bryan Charlton.
Here is an edited extract of the findings of Acting Justice Brian Martin in relation to the convictioon of David Eastman in 1995 for the murder of Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester in January, 1989.
1. My opinions and recommendations are as follows:
- A substantial miscarriage of justice occurred in the applicant’s trial.
- The applicant did not receive a fair trial according to law. He was denied a fair chance of acquittal.
- The issue of guilt was determined on the basis of deeply flawed forensic evidence in circumstances where the applicant was denied procedural fairness in respect of a fundamental feature of the trial process concerned with disclosure by the prosecution of all relevant material.
- As a consequence of the substantial miscarriage of justice, the applicant has been in custody for almost 19 years.
- The miscarriage of justice was such that in ordinary circumstances a court of criminal appeal hearing an appeal against conviction soon after the conviction would allow the appeal and order a retrial.
- A retrial is not feasible and would not be fair.
- While I am fairly certain the applicant is guilty of the murder of the deceased, a nagging doubt remains. The case against the applicant based on the admissible and properly tested evidence is not overwhelming; it is properly described as a strong circumstantial case. There is also material pointing to an alternative hypothesis consistent with innocence, the strength of which is unknown.
- Regardless of my view of the case and the applicant’s guilt, 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.
- In view of the nature of the miscarriage of justice that has occurred and the period the applicant has spent in custody, and in view of the powers conferred on the Full Court, I do not recommend that the Court confirm the conviction and recommend that the Executive grant a pardon.
- I recommend that the applicant’s conviction on 3 November 1995 for the murder of Colin Stanley Winchester be quashed.