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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Keli Lane Found Guilty

Keli Lane screamed and collapsed in the dock yesterday as the "guilty" verdict was read out. She screamed "Oh no" and fell to the floor. The court was temporarily adjourned while she was treated by paramedics. Her mother sobbed loudly. As well as the conviction for murder she was found guilty of three counts of making a false statement under oath regarding documents about two other children who were adopted. The jury of 6 men and 6 women were out for one week. They said they struggled to come to a verdict but finally came to an 11-1 majority decision.

I was shocked by the decision because there was no real evidence - Tegan could be alive somewhere because there is no body, no witnesses, no clothing, no DNA - just assumptions that she must have done it. There was just one piece of solid evidence - sometime beween lunchtime and dinnertime on the 14th September 1996, when Lane left Auburn hospital with her baby, Tegan went missing. She attended a friend's wedding in Manly that afternoon and no one was any the wiser.

Police say they have searched the country looking for the man Keli said she gave her baby to with no result. It seems that conversations between Keli and her mother swayed the jury. Her mother asks about what really happened to the baby and gives Keli the chance to tell the truth but she continued to insist that she gave the baby away to her father.

Being guilty of telling lies is one thing but killing a new baby is quite another. This bizarre case reminds me of the Lindy Chamberlain's trial - Keli was scruitenized by the media. Her clothes, her demeanour, her composure - in fact her serene self-confidence annoyed some people. I saw her as a confident young woman who believed there wasn't a chance in the world that she could possibly be found guilty of murder.

Senior Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi is good at his job. He was also the prosecutor of Gordon West and Des Campbell, both found guilty of murdering their wives. The guilty verdict was 11-1 and obviously Mr Tedeschi somehow convinced the jury that there was no reasonable doubt when it seems there was quite a lot.