Shine hits out at Bleijie's double jeopardy law changes
PLANNED changes Queensland's double jeopardy laws have been criticised by Labor candidate for Toowoomba North Kerry Shine, who was Attorney-General last time the legislation was modified.
The State Government wants to allow police to reopen cases against suspects cleared of guilt prior to 2007.
Labor abandoned double jeopardy laws for murders in 2007 but did not make them retrospective, meaning acquitted defendants could not be retried for cases heard prior to the new laws coming into play.
Kerry Shine's argument:
"THE double jeopardy principles have been a longstanding plank in our criminal justice system, having their origins in Roman and Biblical times, based on the view that "No man ought to be punished twice for the same offence".
Something that's served well for that length of time should not be altered without a great deal of thought.
Circumstances do change however, and with the advances of forensic science and DNA evidence, in 2007 the State Parliament unanimously supported exceptions to the double jeopardy principles to apply in the case of murder where fresh and compelling evidence exists and other crimes punishable with a 25-year penalty where for example the the original evidence was tainted.
It was not made retrospective.
The Queensland Parliament operates under a number of fundamental legal principles one of which is that legislation should not adversely affect citizens' rights and liberties or, conversely, impose obligations in a retrospective nature.
Enormous implications for police and prosecuting authorities will follow if retrospectivity applies.
In the case of all murder acquittals for example, evidence will need to be preserved indefinitely.
The prospect of a fair trial occurring lessens as time passes as witnesses vanish or their memories become less reliable
The prospect of another trial down the track being available, may lead to sloppy or inefficient police investigation or trial preparation.
Fairness demands that once dealt with, a person acquitted should be able to get on with life (subject to the above exceptions), without having to face the prospect of huge expenditure needed to be raised to defend, yet again, a case brought again by the Crown, having at its disposal the unlimited resources of the State.
It must be realised that the proposed changes to retrospectivity will not change the situation in the Deidre Kennedy murder case, as there has been no suggestion made that there now exists fresh or compelling new evidence."