A key forensic witness in the case against David Harold Eastman will make a second attempt to be involved in a challenge to stop the inquiry into the murder conviction.
The Director of Public Prosecutions is seeking to overturn key decisions that created the inquiry into Eastman’s conviction and that shaped its scope.
A court ruled on Thursday Robert Barnes could not intervene in the challenge. However, he will make an application on Friday to become a party to the proceedings.
Intervening in the matter is similar to becoming a party to it; however, Mr Barnes would have a broader legal scope in proceedings.
The inquiry is looking at Eastman’s conviction for the 1989 fatal shooting of ACT police chief Colin Winchester, as the officer sat in a car outside his neighbour’s house.
It was ordered by Justice Shane Marshall last year, after fresh doubt was raised about Eastman’s 1995 conviction.
It has already heard a substantial amount of evidence relating to Eastman’s 1995 conviction, including material critical of Mr Barnes, whose analysis of gunshot residue helped linked Eastman to the murder scene.
An international forensic expert earlier this month cast doubt on Mr Barnes’ findings, saying his own analysis suggested a different weapon had been used and gunshot residue in Eastman’s car boot might not match the ammunition used in the killing.
Mr Barnes’ counsel, Ian Freckelton, SC, applied on Thursday to both become an intervener and a party to the DPP’s challenge.
The application was supported by the DPP, but opposed by lawyers for Eastman and the ACT government.
The full bench of the ACT Supreme Court – Justice Michael Wigney, Chief Justice Helen Murrell and Justice Anna Katzmann – heard argument on the intervention application, but stood down submissions on Mr Barnes joining as a party until Friday morning.
Mr Freckelton said his client wished to be involved in the proceedings as a person integrally affected by the inquiry.
The barrister argued Mr Barnes had a personal, reputational and commercial interest in the challenge as several of the inquiry’s terms of reference were an attack on the voracity and reliability of his work and went to his integrity as aforensic scientist of 40 years’ experience.
He said the ‘‘devastating ramifications’’ could be the perception his client was biased and perjuring, with unsound methodologies.
But the three judges unanimously rejected the application. Eastman’s request for costs to respond to Barnes’ application was reserved.
The hearing continues on Friday.