ACT News

Eastman prosecutor denies 'playing games' with jury on forensics

The man who led the prosecution of David Eastman has rubbished suggestions that he was "playing games" with the jury to boost the   credibility of forensic expert Robert Barnes.

The evidence of former prosecutor Michael Adams, now a NSW Supreme Court judge, continued on Wednesday, as Eastman's lawyers continued their efforts to ensure their client avoids a second trial for the 1989 shooting murder of former territory police chief Colin Stanley Winchester.

David Eastman spent almost 19 years behind bars before having his conviction for the murder of ACT police chief Colin ...
David Eastman spent almost 19 years behind bars before having his conviction for the murder of ACT police chief Colin Stanley Winchester quashed. Photo: Graham Tidy

Eastman spent 19 years behind bars before the 2014 Martin inquiry found deep flaws in the forensic evidence used to link propellant found in his boot with that at the murder scene. Those flaws led to the quashing of his conviction, allowing him to walk free.

His lawyers are now trying to prove that prosecutors engaged in misconduct at his original 1995 trial, arguing they deliberately kept information from the court that could cast doubt on Mr Barnes' evidence.

If proved, prosecutorial misconduct could be used to weigh against a retrial taking place.

The Martin inquiry, however, has already found that prosecutors acted professionally and ethically, and that any failure to disclose information was inadvertent.

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Eastman's barrister Mark Griffin, QC, asked the former prosecutor Mr Adams why he'd let Mr Barnes fly overseas to personally meet with world experts on gunshot residue analysis.

Mr Griffin put it to Mr Adams that he was trying to bolster the credibility of Mr Barnes in the eyes of the jury.

Mr Adams responded:

"Mr Griffin, I was not playing games with the jury.

"I would not have done it. I would not have implied it. Absolutely not."

Mr Griffin spent much of Wednesday questioning Mr Adams about what he knew of Mr Barnes methods, and of concerns that others had expressed about his work.

At one point, the former prosecutor was asked whether he believed Mr Barnes was too emotionally involved in the case and lacked impartiality.

Mr Adams responded that he believed he was involved in his opinions, something that was normal for most experts.

He said he would have been concerned if Mr Barnes was not invested in his opinions.

"I saw nothing that suggested anything out of the ordinary," Mr Adams said.

"I never gathered that he was abnormally, or unsafely, or problematically involved in the opinions."

The stay application continues before Acting Justice David Ashley.