Posts Tagged ‘criminal law’
Following the inquiry into the death of prisoner Simon Rochford, Deputy State Coroner Evelyn Vicker recommend legislation to allow police to suppress information that might “compromise an investigation into a serious offence.”
Western Australia’s new new Attorney-General Christian Porter (the guy who told The Australian that addressing the state’s indigenous prison rate was not high on his agenda) apparently thinks this recommendation is “sensible and deserves consideration”.
Erm… giving the police MORE powers to keep stuff OUT of the press when on most occasions they seem to love PUTTING IT THERE THEMSELVES seems a little strange.
Rochford’s death was yet another chapter in the legal saga surrounding the 1994 murder of Pamela Lawrence. Andrew Mallard’s conviction for the murder was quashed by the High Court in 2005 after he had spent over a decade in jail. The Corruption and Crime Commish made findings of misconduct against police and prosecutors involved in the case. A cold case review discovered a previously unidentified palm print from the crime scene which was traced back to Rochford … who happened to be serving time for the murder of his girlfriend.
Deputy Coroner Vicker found that the ABC television news report naming Rochford as the new suspect in the high-profile murder case “precipitated” his decision to commit suicide just hours after he saw the news.
Last week, The Australian‘s Debbie Guest pointed out that:
The calls for new police powers follow a year of scrutiny of Perth media, including a raid on the Sunday Times newspaper by armed police in an attempt to find the source of a story that embarrassed the previous Carpenter government. [link]
Yeah, News Ltd is still pissed about that one. But I don’t think this is about the media.
Last year I wrote on my own blog about how the cops effed up in naming Supreme Court Registrar Corryn Rayney’s “estranged” husband the “prime suspect” in her murder yet never charged him. Mr Rayney, who’s a FRICKING BARRISTER, recently sued the coppers and the government for defamation.
An article on PerthNow reporting that police revealed info about an item found at the site in King’s Park where Registrar Rayney’s body was found, noted:
Since the defamation writ was issued last month, police have been reluctant to comment on any aspect of the Rayney case.
But wait… now the government wants to give the cops the powers to “suppress information”?
You’ve gotta be kidding me, Christian Porter — the boys in blue can’t keep their OWN mouths shut, dontcha think you need to work on that before fannying about with “suppression” laws?
And, um, didn’t they keep quiet about the tape of Jane or Sarah talking to some random at The Claremont on the night they went missing for twelve years and then got bitch-slapped about that?
This is not about the media going over the line. This is about the cops making value judgments about things when it suits them, and then blaming the mean, nasty media when the shit hits the fan.
Now, Labor’s shadow Attorney-General McGinty says nasty suppression legislation could stifle information which should be made public (well spotted, Captain Duh):
“I have reservations about the wisdom of yet further suppression orders of information [that] should be in the public arena,” he said.
“I think on balance that the public interest is best served by not having so many prohibitions on the public being given the information upon which they can make their judgements.” [link]
Ok, look, I love the dude (especially for everything he did for ending discrimination against Teh Gays in WAys, and stuff) and he’s right, there’s no point putting more powers in the cop’s hands, but in my humble opinion, Jimmy doesn’t actually get the point either.
I just wonder… Will laws ban giving info to the jurors who are supposed to make the judgments? Because until they are unable to lie their way out of jury duty, no member of the public should be making judgements about anyone’s criminal liability.
They should get back to washing their cars on the lawns and shopping at Bunnings and doing those other things all good Sandgropers do. Ok?
While the police are investigating stuff, the public should have no right to information unless aforementioned public can help. The public ‘making judgements’ about on-going investigations, where no charges have been laid and no case against a person has been made in a court of law, has got squat to do with it.
Everyone got that? Good.
But Jimmy’s right on the essential bit: banning the media from talking about criminal investigations like that isn’t the solution.
Sue Short, the ABC reporter who broke the story, said she wouldn’t have named Rochford if she’d “been given a good reason” and call me naïve but I would like to think journos still have the ethics and/or values that would have them hold off on a story if it would do more harm than good to an on-going investigation.
Legislators don’t need to create powers that let the police keep the media quiet, they need to get the police to do their job, and give them proper media training while they’re at it.
The pollies should get back to something they can actually fix instead of wasting time ranting on about unnecessary and draconian “suppression” laws.
I mean, honestly. What do they think they’re running? Notre Dame Uni? Psh.
After all the fun of yesterday, today is a sad day. It has been one year since Supreme Court Registrar Corryn Rayney disappeared and was later found murdered in a shallow grave in Kings Park. I’ve mentioned the issue before, and it’s unbelievable that it’s been a year already.
The fact that this happened in Perth is bad enough, because no matter what this place will always be a tiny little town, but I also know lots of people who worked with her and I know how much her passing affected them.
From every account, she was a wonderful human being.
I never met her, I’d never even heard of her before this, but yeah… it’s still just still so shocking and sad. I hope that wherever she is now, she’s at peace, and I truly hope everyone who was near and dear to her are ok.
Ok super quick rant but this just cannot go without mention.
We all know Teh West is the torchbearer for shit, sensationalist journalism, but TWAT “Chief Of Staff” Liam Phillips seems to have decided to step up to make a challenge to that title. Maybe it’s all the post-Tour de France, pre-Olympic competitive spirit coming out.
Young Phillips has posted a gem of a “opinion” piece highlighting the ignorance and just unbelievabe stupidness that makes this charming state well-known for being red-neck hicks who just love spouting their visceral knee-jerk affrontedness at the drop of a hat. (Lots of adjectives = Sunili is pissed off.)
On the coronial inquest into the suicide of Simon Rochford, the prisoner who topped himself after it was revealed he was the suspect in a 1994 murder (for which Andrew Mallard was wrongfully convicted and jailed), Phillips essentially wonders why we should cry for Rochford, when, frankly, he was just a roach:
… the most surprising aspect of the inquest’s coverage is the victimised way in which Rochford has often been presented.
Sure he committed suicide – a sad act. But let’s not forget, this man was no altar boy. He was a convicted killer serving a life jail term for the brutal murder of his girlfriend Brigitta Dickens in July 1994.
He became involved in the Pamela Lawrence case because he was suspected of bludgeoning her to death – a reasonable assumption, you would think, given his track record.
Uuuuuhhhh. Gee, well, um, I only did a law degree and now work at the Court and stuff, but I have a strange feeling that you’re not really supposed to make “reasonable assumptions” based on prior convictions, unless it’s in a very narrow set of circumstances. Or something. Heck, correct me if I’m wrong, eh?
For me, it’s all a bit of a moot point anyway. The ultimate aim of this exercise is to establish who killed Pamela Lawrence.
And committing suicide the day you have been named as a suspect is not the typical action of an innocent man.
Not only is that just totally effing offensive to anyone who knows the slightest thing about the principles of criminal justice (establishing who killed her kinda needs a trial and stuff, which we can’t have since the guy’s dead, but hey, I could be wrong again) … I have a feeling it takes the vitriole of “law and order” ranting in this state down to new lows.
Or maybe I’m just lucky to not have read anything worse in recent memory.
But what’s worse besides, that’s just the kinda moron attitude that gets the wrong person locked up for 12 years, isn’t it?
I bloody hope my idol Patti Chong has a go at this knob on Thursday.
PS: Today’s iGoogle quote of the day is amusingly appropriate:
People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.
– AJ Liebling
I cannot believe these douchebags get away with publishing and justifying it as “opinion”. How the hell do people get these gigs? Why are they not made to write “I will not tell lies” on the back of their hands with magical mean-quills? Fucktards. Sorry. This really irks me.
The recent developments in the Corryn Rayney murder investigation have shocked and saddened me.
Firstly, to hear the police come out and name her husband, and claim that they have evidence that she was murdered in the family home was a little unnerving. Did anyone watch the second (and was it the last? I haven’t heard about it since) episode of Shark? With the story line of the surgeon husband suspected of killing his doctor wife while the kid was at home? The episode aired the week after Corryn went missing. I sat there watching it going, ‘oh jeez, I hope the same thing doesn’t happen here.’ Her body was found a few days later.
I know, I’m totally lame for relating everything to televisions shows. But it was just creepily co-inki-dinky. Like Annabel Catt/Dixon.
But after Mr Rayney was declared the “prime suspect” on Thursday, and after days of forensic investigation and luminol spraying, he still hasn’t been charged. At least not with her murder.
They were estranged. The phone tap thing is weird. And he’s the main “person of interest”. For all we know, he did it.
But the way the police have handled the publicity issues here just astounds me. Don’t they watch City Homicide?? Noni Hazelhurst wisely tells the Thank-God-You’re-Here guy to make sure his kids keep everything out of the press every single week!
Sure, in the this age of information-gluttony, the public wants to know everything. But it’s also in the public interest to ensure our legal system retains its integrity.
We have a criminal justice system to try and prosecute offenders. Even when they’re charged, suspects are innocent until proven guilty, etc etc etc. But we’ve been given snippets of this and bits of that which amounts to a great circumstantial case, without any real hard facts or evidence.
Media releases should never, ever, replace counsel presenting a case to a judge and jury. Unless we get the call-up to sit in the box with 11 fellow Perthites, we cannot decide if Mr Rayney did it or not… but with everything that’s been aired out in the past few days, will they ever find 12 people who haven’t already made up their minds?
You can say as much as you like that the WA Law Society & Bar Association etc are just speaking out on this issue to defend one of their own, I guess like
Deputy Commissioner Dawson is standing by Snr Sgt Lee, but they are the ones who know how the system ought to work.
Tom Percy QC was absolutely right when he came out and said:
“The concept of a prime suspect, there is no concept of it in law. I think it was definitely a mistake. They’ve got to either charge him or just be quiet about it.”
If Mr Rayney did it, he did it, and if the police do everything right he’ll get done for it according to the law. But the way things are unfolding, he’s getting done by the media, and the problem is that there is no right of appeal from that verdict. It’s life, it’s been done, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.