Horrific stories of kids locked up 23 hours a day forming suicide pacts, regular riots and a juvenile jail smashed to pieces are the backdrop for an urgent need to change tack on how the state of WA treats its young, and old, prisoners. Australia needs an inquiry – one it has never had in its 120 years – into the state of justice in the nation, CLA’s CEO Bill Rowlings writes.
Australia needs a Criminal Cases Review Commission system. Proven over 25 years in Britain, a CCRC can correct wrongful convictions like those of the Guildford 4 and the Birmingham 6 (Photo: two of those victims, with Australian wrongful conviction guru Estelle Blackburn). With an Australian CCRC system, the cases of Sue Neill-Fraser and Derek Bromley – now before the High Court – would have evaluated for their possible erroneous forensics earlier than 13 and 37 years ago, respectively.
Sue Neill-Fraser has lodged a request for a full appeal hearing to the High Court of Australia…for the second time. The High Court summarily dismissed her request a decade ago, but there is much more reason to believe she deserves to be heard this time, after one of three Tasmanian Criminal Appeal Court judges recently ruled her conviction should be quashed.
A battle over decriminalising some drug use in the ACT is holding back help for desperate people, and probably endangering lives, drug law reform expert Bill Bush says. The outcomes in the ACT are likely a forerunner of changes to drug laws throughout Australia…eventually.
Derek Bromley refuses to leave prison because he is innocent. He has served 38 years. He was eligible for parole 14 years ago. But to be paroled, he ‘must express remorse for his crime’. Bromley maintains he did not commit a crime, and so is unable to express genuine remorse. His case will soon be before the High Court, with the state of South Australia having a lot to answer for.
Tasmania’s Court of Criminal Appeal rejected Sue Neill-Fraser’s second appeal, 10 years after the first, against her conviction and sentence for murdering her husband, Bob Chappell, onboard their yacht Four Winds in Sandy Bay, Hobart, in 2009. This time, the three judges split 2-1. One judge believes she was wrongly convicted, and wanted a retrial. Can she appeal again to the High Court of Australia? Not long ago, in the case of Cardinal Pell, the High Court unanimously overturned the original jury verdict and a 2-1 appeal court finding to acquit the Cardinal and set him free.
Forensic science throughout Australia has caused massive miscarriages of justice. There’s Mallard in WA, Farah Jama in Victoria, Gordon Wood and claimed spearchucking a body at The Gap in NSW, Lindy Chamberlain, the Dingo and sound-deadening material in the NT…and, CLA believes, the Sue Neill-Fraser ‘Yacht No Body’ case in Tasmania. But still forensic scientists appear to be super-resistant to critiques of their opinions aimed at improving legal certainty. Here’s a report of an ongoing dispute, being played out in the global scientific media…at the instigation of an Australian polymath stargazer whose base is the foot of a telescope in the Canary Islands, south-west of Casablanca.
Crime in on a 20-year decline, but the number of prisoners in Australia has been growing dramatically over the same period (except for during Covid-19 lockdowns). Why are taxpayers being forced to pay about $330 a day – the price of a top notch hotel stay – for each prisoner each day across Australia? Our justice system generally is no longer fit for purpose, and Productivity Commissions, both national and in Queensland, have recently tried to come to grips with the prison end of Australia’s ‘justice’ system, which CLA says is Unjust By Design.
Wrongful convictions expert Prof Dr Bob Moles has written to Members of the Tasmanian Parliament explaining why they should intervene to ensure justice for Sue Neill-Fraser, the woman convicted – in error, CLA and many liberties, rights and legal experts believe – for killing her husband Bob Chappell, on Australia Day 2009 on board a yacht moored in Sandy Bay, Hobart. The Yacht-No-Body case has riven Tasmania in two, with the state’s Establishment figures and systems fiercely resisting to acknowledge massive errors in the original trial which saw her jailed more than 12 years ago. Read What the Court Got Wrong, and How To Fix the Mess, by Dr Moles and his wife and co-author, Prof Bibi Sangha.