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Barrister and journalist pick up Civil Justice Award

Barrister and journalist pick up Civil Justice Award

A barrister and journalist who secured the release of a man wrongfully convicted of murder have been awarded the 2009 Australian Lawyers Alliance Civil Justice Award.Western Australian Shadow…

A barrister and journalist who secured the release of a man wrongfully convicted of murder have been awarded the 2009 Australian Lawyers Alliance Civil Justice Award.

Western Australian Shadow Attorney-General and barrister John Quigley and journalist Colleen Egan worked with the family of Andrew Mallard, who had been convicted of the murder of jewellery shop owner Pamela Lawrence in 1995 and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2006 - with Mallard having spent more than a decade in jail - they were successful in their efforts to have the conviction quashed and Mallard released.

Quigley worked as a lawyer in Western Australia for 20 years before entering state parliament in 2001. He has served as a member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly since 2001, first as the Member for Innaloo, then as the Member for Mindarie.

Egan is currently the assistant editor for The West Australian newspaper. She became involved in the case in 1998 after being approached by Mallard's family.

Egan and Quigley's investigations revealed that the conviction of Mallard - who suffers from bipolar disorder - was based largely on a confession which police claimed to have obtained after 12 hours of questioning. They worked with the defence team to expose other cracks in the prosecution's case, discovering new evidence undisclosed by both police and the Western Australian DPP at Mallard's trial, and proving that key witness statements were changed during the proceedings.

An appeal of the trial decision to the Supreme Court of Western Australia was unsuccessful, but in 2006 the High Court unanimously quashed Mallard's conviction and ordered a retrial. The Western Australian DPP later announced that there was insufficient evidence to secure a conviction through a retrial and Mallard was released.

A subsequent review of the case by the West Australian police found that a palm print from the crime scene matched that of Simon Rochford, who was serving a life sentence for the murder of another Perth woman which occurred six weeks after Pamela Lawrence's murder. Other forensic evidence was uncovered linking him to the crime, but he committed suicide after being questioned by police in 2006.

A subsequent Corruption and Crime Commission inquiry into the case led to misconduct findings against two assistant police commissioners and the state's deputy DPP, who were detectives and prosecutor at the time of Mallard's trial.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance Civil Justice Award is presented annually to individuals and organisations whose efforts have had a significant impact on the furtherance of civil justice. Previous winners have included asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton and David Hicks' defence lawyer Major Michael Mori.

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