David Harold Eastman is arrested by Commander Rick Ninnes. Photo: Palani Mohan
The man responsible for marshalling forensic evidence used against the accused killer of the ACT’s police chief says prosecutors had ‘‘nothing to hide’’ from David Eastman’s defence team.
But former prosecutor John Edward Ibbotson cannot explain why Eastman’s defence did not receive a range of material that potentially raised questions about the case’s key forensic witness, describing the revelations as ‘‘shocking’’.
‘‘All I know was that I tried to make sure the defence had everything because I knew David Eastman,’’ Mr Ibbotson said on Friday.
‘‘Everything you’ve shown me should have gone to the defence, I’m sorry, if it didn’t, I have no idea why.’’
The Eastman inquiry - ordered in 2012 after fresh doubt was raised about conviction - is investigating whether the prosecution complied with its duty to hand over all relevant information on the case to the accused’s defence team before trial.
The inquiry has uncovered a series of reports, apparently never disclosed to the defence, that relate to the damning evidence of key forensic witness Robert Barnes.
Mr Barnes’ evidence was critical in the circumstantial case against Eastman, and linked him with gunshot residue found at the murder scene near assistant commissioner Colin Winchester’s home.
Mr Ibbotson was the deputy director of public prosecutions from February 1992 to September 1994, but remained as junior counsel for the prosecution of Eastman in the 1995 trial.
Counsel assisting the current inquiry, Liesl Chapman, SC, questioned Mr Ibbotson on Friday morning about the material not given to Eastman’s defence.
‘‘I can’t explain it, all I’m saying is I tried my best to disclose the information that needed to be disclosed to the defence,’’ he said.
‘‘Am I understood?’’
He said it amazed him that some of the information appeared not to have been handed over, saying he was careful to give them everything because he knew Eastman and had dealt with him before.
‘‘We had nothing to hide and we were dealing with Mr Eastman, so as far as I’m concerned, you gave the defence everything,’’ Mr Ibbotson said.
‘‘So this is really shocking and surprising."
The former prosecutor also admitted there had been problems with the forensic expert Mr Barnes handing in some of his material in time for the trial.
In one letter from the 1990s, Mr Ibbotson is recorded as saying Mr Barnes’ lateness was putting him in an ‘‘embarrassing’’ position.
The former prosecutor said on Friday that the issues with Mr Barnes would have made it hard to disclose some information to the defence.
The inquiry continues on Friday afternoon before Acting Justice Brian Martin.