Thursday, 31 July 2008

Burrell to appeal again over Whelan murder

Appeal to be re-heard: Bruce Burrell

The High Court has ordered the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal to re-hear an appeal by convicted murderer Bruce Burrell.

Fifty-five-year-old Burrell is serving life in jail for kidnapping and killing Kerry Whelan, who was last seen outside a Parramatta hotel in May 1997.

The New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed an appeal last year against Burrell's conviction, but it was later discovered that the decision included substantial factual errors that were not included in the trial.

The NSW Court upheld its original decision.

Today the High Court unanimously allowed Burrell's appeal and ordered that it be re-heard.


Burrell sentenced to life for Whelan murder?
In his defence, his lawyers argued that the prosecution case was based on speculative and intrinsically flawed circumstantial evidence. What's more, Bruce Burrell's lawyers pointed out there wasn't a shred of forensic evidence linking him to the crime. Not a single hair, not even a microscopic trace of Kerry Whelan's DNA was ever found, despite extensive searches of his cars and property. [But the jury's guilty verdict demonstrates that a strong circumstantial case can be sufficient to ensure a conviction?

TRIAL BY MEDIA! or trial by a Jury?
Once a person is charged there should be a media black ban on that case until a jury has found the person either guilty or not guilty. If the media have the power to elect our political parties then they also have the power to find people guilty. Especially people who are being tried over and over again. Now with no double jeopardy rules and majority verdicts in NSW then high profile cases have become susceptible to being tried by the media and not by the jury in my humble opinion.

Mouse Trap Game? Tried Until Guilty!
Two New South Wales Labor MPs have strongly criticised the Carr Government's proposed abolition of the 800 year old double jeopardy rule, which stops people being tried a second time for the same crime. The left-wing MPs have branded the reforms as dishonest and unjust in a formal submission to the Attorney-General's department.

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