David Eastman was convicted in 1995 of the murder of Assistant Commissioner of Police Colin Winchester. On August 22, 2014, the conviction was quashed and a new trial ordered, by which time Eastman had served almost 20 years of a sentence of life imprisonment. The DPP is proceeding with the retrial. The costs of the retrial are reported by the Canberra Times as something of the order of $27 million. The ACT Budget sets aside $5.103 million for the trial in the current year and in addition $3.028 million is allocated to the Office of the DPP, an undisclosed portion of which relates to the Eastman prosecution.

Why is the DPP proceeding? There are three possible outcomes.

1) Eastman is convicted. As he is now 72 and has already served the best part of a life sentence surely a court is likely to impose no further penalty.

2) Eastman is acquitted. That would raise significant compensation questions which would likely be very costly.

3) A jury cannot agree, in which case there must be a retrial or a discontinuance of the prosecution.

How does the continuance of this case justify its costs? Why is the DPP persisting with the prosecution in light of the above facts?

– G. A. Stretton SC, Canberra (a member of the Canberra Bar)

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