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Saturday, August 23, 2014

David Eastman conviction quashed

David Eastman was found guilty of murdering senior policeman Colin Winchester in 1995 and served 19 years. Yesterday his conviction was quashed and he's a free man because of flaws in the forensic evidence. 

Detectives targeted Eastman because everything pointed to his guilt. He was furious when Winchester refused to help him have an assault charge withdrawn so he could rejoin the public service.  He had a motive, he was seen casing the area prior to the murder, he was linked to the murder weapon and he didn't have an alibi.

In May, the Martin Inquiry recommended Eastman's murder conviction be quashed because there were serious flaws in the forensic evidence put forward by scientist Robert Collins Barnes.  Inquiry head judge Justice Brian Martin found there had been a substantial miscarriage of justice, even though he personally believes he is guilty.

A full bench of the Supreme Court made up of three judges, Justice Steven Rares, Justice Michael Wigney and Acting Justice Dennis Cowdroy spent a month mulling over the evidence.

It's now up to the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide if a retrial should go ahead and it won't be easy because many of the witnesses have since died and forensic evidence destroyed.

Linda and Michael Chamberlain before their lives were ruined by a so-called forensic expert

So-called forensic experts have once again let down our justice system. I can still remember the look on Lindy Chamberlain's face when the NT forensic expert told the court that she had found fetal blood in their car. The blood turned out to be a combination of milk and a chemical sprayed during manufacture.