ACT News

Director of Public Prosecutions told to speed up plans for potential David Eastman retrial

It's still unclear if David Eastman will face a retrial.
It's still unclear if David Eastman will face a retrial. 

The Director of Public Prosecutions has been warned he has little over a month before he will need to explain his plans for a potential retrial of David Eastman.

Eastman's case for the alleged 1989 murder of ACT police chief Colin Stanley Winchester came back before the ACT Supreme Court on Monday for the first time since his release last month.

The DPP Jon White is currently on leave until the end of September, but acting DPP John Lundy appeared on his behalf.

He told Chief Justice Helen Murrell the decision on whether to put Eastman on trial again was likely to "take a little time".

Mr Lundy said the situation was unlikely to be any clearer on September 11, when the case was next due to come back to court for an argument over Eastman's bail conditions. 

But Chief Justice Murrell said she was dissatisfied with that approach.

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"I have to say it's not entirely satisfactory, Mr Crown, not that I'm saying anything about your involvement," she said.

Eastman's lawyer was also unimpressed with the "protracted state" of the proceedings, saying the DPP had known of the potential for this outcome months ago.

He also said that a retrial of Eastman had been the DPP's fallback position when arguing their case earlier this year before the ACT Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Murrell told the Crown that she wanted to hear a plan or timetable for how they will approach the decision on October 11.

"Mr Crown, could you inform the director that I would like to know something other than he is waiting on the receipt of documents," she said.

She also excused Eastman from personally appearing at further court mentions, unless otherwise required by the court.

Chief Justice Murrell told the parties if they could sort out their argument about Eastman's bail conditions out of court, then there may be no need for the case to come back on September 11.

Eastman was released last month after spending 19 years behind bars for the murder of Mr Winchester.

His 1995 conviction was quashed, due mainly to deep flaws with gunshot residue analysis that linked him to the murder scene. 

The ACT Supreme Court ordered a retrial but that decision is ultimately up to the DPP, who need to decide whether its possible and in the interests of justice.

The court also urged the DPP to have the AFP properly investigate new, secret evidence casting further suspicion on the Calabrian mafia, or 'Ndrangheta.

The AFP has been reluctant to properly investigate that evidence, the court said.

Eastman's lawyers are able to make an application to stay proceedings if the DPP does decide to push ahead with a new trial.