The Greens NSW have today released the Consultation Report following a public consultation on our draft Bill, the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Amendment (Double Jeopardy) Bill 2015. That Bill would implement Recommendation 8, a central recommendation of the NSW Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice Report on the ‘Family response to the murders at Bowraville’.

Double jeopardy laws allow the prosecution to seek a retrial in very limited circumstances after a defendant is acquitted of a crime that carries a penalty of life imprisonment. This is a limited number of crimes including murder and the most serious aggravated sexual assaults. Those laws have never been used since their introduction in 2006.  In particular, they have not been applied in the case of the Bowraville murders. 25 years after three Aboriginal children, Colleen Walker, Clinton Speedy-Duroux and Evelyn Greenup, were murdered, the murderer has not been brought to justice.

Bowraville protestRecommendation 8 of the Committee’s Report dealt with amendments to the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001 that would allow the prosecution to seek a retrial where there is evidence that was inadmissible under evidence law at the time of the first trial that would now be admissible under today’s law. Any such application is subject to a series of checks and balances, including that the Court of Appeal must decide allowing a retrial is in the interests of justice. If implemented, this would remove one very significant impediment to a retrial in the Bowraville case.

We were grateful to receive a range of submissions during the consultation on our draft legislation, leading to this Consultation Report which ultimately recommends:

1. That the draft consultation Bill be amended to read:

                [1]      Section 102 Fresh and compelling evidence—Meaning

Insert after section 102 (2):

(2a) Evidence is also fresh if:

(a) it was inadmissible in the proceedings in which the person was acquitted, and

(b) as a result of a substantive, legislative change in the law of evidence since the acquittal, it would now be admissible if the acquitted person was to be retried.

2. That the amended Bill be presented to Parliament as soon as possible.

When families have been waiting 25 years for justice for the loss of three children we believe that Parliament has an obligation to act. The Committee showed the Parliament the path to justice for Bowraville and, with Parliament’s return, the time has come to walk down it.

We hope that every political party can get behind this reform and put concrete action behind our collective promises following last year’s Parliamentary Inquiry.