Amanda Quirk pictured with her mum.
Amanda Quirk pictured with her mum.

Flatmate convicted of murdering Quirk granted re-trial

THE flatmate convicted of torturing and bashing Amanda Quirk to death in the Booval home they shared has been granted a re-trial separate from his co-accused.

Christopher James Swan fought his murder conviction in the Queensland Court of Appeal, arguing he should have been granted a trial separate to fellow flatmate Rachel Narelle Smith and that the guilty verdict was unreasonable.

Swan was found guilty after a trial in October but the same jury could not reach a verdict about Smith's involvement and was discharged.

Both had pleaded not guilty to murder, instead pointing the finger at each other.

Smith, who went to police a week after Swan dumped the body in NSW bushland, claimed he had beat, kicked and jumped on Ms Quirk's head, while she was tied up with duct tape, until she stopped breathing.

Swan claimed Smith used a heavy object to kill Ms Quirk, that he slapped her just once.

Justice Catherine Holmes, in a judgment handed down on Friday, said Smith's statements and interviews contained "a great deal of prejudicial material" which could have had an acute effect when the jury was considering who was responsible for the killing.

She said Smith had spoken about Swan moving into the Booval house direct from jail with the reason for imprisonment left unexplained, she said he had a gun and described him as a liar and a thief.

"I have come to the conclusion that the prejudice to Swan, in trying him before a jury while also had before it the case against Smith, was beyond cure by direction and that the consequence was a miscarriage of justice," she said.

Justice Holmes said the case against Swan was not strong and depended "entirely" on the version from Michelle Mondientz, who claimed she saw him deliver earlier violence on Ms Quirk and later helped him dispose of the body.

She said there were many reasons to question the version from Mondientz - a heavy drug user with mental health problems who feared returning to jail - and her credibility was critical.

Mondientz, who admitted assaulted Ms Quirk herself earlier in the evening, was given a reduced sentence on the proviso she testify against Swan and Smith.

Justice Holmes said Smith's police interviews gave Mondientz' version more credibility and were pivotal in Swan's conviction.

Justice David Jackson agreed inadmissible evidence against Swan bolstered Mondientz' credibility.



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