DPP calls out court on errors, files High Court appeal
Queensland's Director of Public Prosecutions has lodged an appeal with the High Court, claiming that a court which reduced a murder conviction to manslaughter made errors in its decision.
In a rare decision, DPP Michael Byrne QC has decided to challenge the appeal court’s decision to downgrade Gerard Baden-Clay’s murder conviction, filing an application on Monday.
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Mr Baden-Clay was convicted of murder two years ago after he killed his wife Allison in 2012, but in December 2015 the Queensland Court of Appeal ruled that Mr Baden-Clay was guilty of manslaughter after finding that there was not enough evidence to support the murder conviction.
Last week Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath indicated that Mr Byrne was preparing an appeal, saying that the decision had been made independently by Mr Byrne after “considerable thought”.
Ms D'Ath welcomed the application and denied that it was the result of public pressure.
In the appeal documents, Mr Byrne claimed that the court was wrong to conclude that "the jury could not have been satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the element of intent to kill or do grievous bodily harm had been proved".
The decision to downgrade Mr Baden-Clay’s conviction has proved unpopular, with more than 2,000 Queenslanders taking to the streets to protest on 18 December.
Acting Minister for Justice Peter Dutton also weighed in on the debate, saying that he agreed with coverage of the court case in The Courier-Mail, which criticised the decision.
Mr Dutton came under attack for his remarks by the Australian Bar Association president, Fiona McLeod, who said his “uninformed comments” could have “undermined public confidence in the judiciary”.