ACT News


Judge appointed to Eastman inquiry

A retired South Australian Supreme Court judge will preside over the new inquiry into David Eastman's conviction for the 1989 murder of Colin Winchester.

The announcement of former military judge Kevin Duggan QC comes just days after a Federal Court justice ordered that Eastman should receive a second inquiry.

Mr Duggan must first be appointed an acting judge of the ACT Supreme Court.

Assistant police commissioner Colin Winchester was shot dead outside his Deakin home in 1989.

Six years later, Eastman, a former public servant, was convicted of Mr Winchester's murder and sentenced to life in jail.

Eastman has always maintained his innocence and controversy and alternative theories have continued to swirl around the murder conviction.


He has already had one judicial inquiry into his conviction and in November last year The Canberra Times revealed a fresh witness had come forward saying he had borrowed Eastman's car to go rabbit-hunting in the late 1980s.

The man said he had placed a rifle in the boot of the car, a move that could explain the gunshot residue police found there.

Last month, Eastman had a win in his continuing legal battle after a full bench of the territory's Supreme Court declared he could have another inquiry if he could cast fresh doubt on his conviction.

The court found that Eastman was not barred from a new inquiry simply because one had previously occurred.

And earlier this week, Federal Court Justice Shane Marshall ordered that Eastman should have a new inquiry but blasted the ACT Government for its handling of the affair, saying it lacked “intestinal fortitude” to order an inquiry with executive powers.

He also criticised the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for its “bizarre attitude” to the case and declared he would refuse to sit in the Canberra court system in future.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell had said the board of inquiry would be appointed even if the Government went into caretaker mode ahead of October's territory elections. 

Mr Duggan served as a South Australian Supreme Court judge for more than 20 years and was judge advocate general for the defence force for five years. He took silk in the late 1970s.

Mr Corbell said Mr Duggan brought a wealth of experience to the inquiry and was well-respected and well-regarded in the legal community.