The unsolved Winchester murder case should not gather dust but should be re-investigated as a homicide cold case, according to Canberra's former top cop.
Former ACT chief police officer Roman Quaedvlieg believes that with the acquittal of David Harold Eastman for the 1989 murder of AFP assistant commissioner Colin Winchester, a cold case team should be assigned to pursue the case "to the nth degree".
"This remains, after all, an unsolved homicide, a high-profile cold case, and should be treated as such," Mr Quaedvlieg said.
A highly experienced detective, former federal police assistant commissioner and former head of Australia's Border Force, Mr Quaedvlieg said he had spent many hours reading through the archive case material as it was being digitised for submission to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
"As an investigator, I wanted to know about the case; it piqued my interest," he said.
At the time when Mr Quaedvlieg was head of the ACT police, David Harold Eastman, who had been convicted of the murder, had succeeded in having the case reheard.
Years after Mr Quaevlieg had left ACT police and became Australia's first Border Force commissioner, an ACT Supreme Court jury found Mr Eastman not guilty in November 2018 after he had served 19 years in jail.
Mr Eastman received $7 million in public compensation and his acquittal in the most high-profile crime in Canberra's history - the cold-blooded murder of one of Australia's most senior police officers in a Deakin driveway - now leaves a major case shrouded in mystery and subject to ongoing speculation.
And that, says Mr Quaedvlieg, who served for three years as Canberra's top cop, should not be an acceptable outcome for a police service nor does it provide any appropriate closure for the Winchester family.
"Eastman popped up as a prime suspect early on and he then quickly became a strong focus for the investigation," Mr Quaedvlieg said.
"But from what I read from the archives at the time, and from what we know now, there were lines of inquiry in the case that hadn't been followed to the point of exhaustion.
"I know that emotions were running high and there was a desire to build a case which would convict. But now we know there were irregularities."
He said that "as salacious as it sounds", the potential for the murder to have been a professional "hit" now looms as a presented hypothesis which "needs to be negated or pursued".
"From a cold case perspective, you would need to re-examine the evidence with fresh eyes," he said.
The much-opined view that it was a professional hit on Winchester in retaliation for his involvement in a controlled drug crop operation at Bungendore "wouldn't be the only alternative hypothesis I'd pursue".
"If it's approached as a true cold case, then all hypotheses should be reassessed, including this one because it was a major alternative hypothesis at the time," Mr Quaedvlieg said.
"And in doing so, you would now re-examine a lot of that old evidence, potentially using new DNA and forensic techniques, and see how it may be applied to this alternative hypothesis."
Mr Quaedvlieg, who while serving with the Queensland police was involved in a number of major undercover drug investigations which had Italian mafia connections, said the potential for the Canberra murder to have similar such connections was plausible.
"But I also get the impression that there isn't an appetite in the ACT to re-assess the case," he said.
"In my view as an investigator do I think it is worth turning over those rocks again? Yes, I think it is."
- Roman Quaedvlieg's account of his time as a police officer and with Australian Border Force, Tour De Force, will be released for publication on June 2.