Grain thief loses court appeal

A MAN jailed for stealing nearly $160,000 worth of grain from a depot at Goondiwindi in 2006 has lost a court appeal against his sentence.

Victor McCosker, 47, was sentenced to four years’ jail for stealing 16 truckloads of grain from his employer, Graincorp, which his accomplice Janelle Sandra Collins, 42, sold to two feedlots.

Collis was sentenced to three and a half years for her part in the operation.

McCosker is due for parole in November this year and Collins in October, with McCosker lodging his appeal on the grounds a juror had not revealed she knew him and had prior knowledge of the subject matter of the trial.

The Court of Appeal heard at the start of the trial in the District Court at Goondiwindi the prosecutor read out a list of witnesses and the judge asked the jury if they could be impartial.

Two jurors who knew the defendants were discharged, while another who served one of the defendants at a hotel was allowed to remain on the jury.

But McCosker said yet another juror was a nurse who had attended to him when he was hospitalised after a breakdown from the stress of the charges and had known the woman for about 20 years, as well as her having been a close friend of his de facto partner.

McCosker’s de facto signed an affidavit that she knew the juror and had seen her at the hospital where they had a 40-minute discussion about the case.

She also stated she had told the woman about unrelated allegations of theft against McCosker.

But in a two-to-one majority judgment delivered in Brisbane yesterday the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal by McCosker.

Justice Chesterman noted McCosker had not challenged the juror at the trial and there was a limited pool of jurors in Goondiwindi. Justice Keane agreed, adding McCosker had elected to take his chances with the juror at trial.

But Justice Holmes dissented, making different findings of fact about possible bias on the juror’s part.

Despite the dismissal of the appeal the case has highlighted problems with getting impartial juries in small towns.

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