Thursday, October 20, 2016

Gable Tostee: Not guilty.

Today Gable Tostee was found not guilty after almost a week of jury deliberations.  The audio recording of the incident, recorded on Tostee's phone revealed a drunken argument between Tostee and Warriena Wright, which resulted in him locking her out on the balcony of  his apartment.  She then tried to climb to another balcony and fell to her death.

I have concerns about the incident, but I think the jury made the right decision.  As much as he is a bit of an asshole, there is enough doubt about his involvement that they had to acquit. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

The scourge of domestic violence.

The media in Australia is currently highlighting the significant amount of domestic violence within our society.  Domestic violence has always been present, but a number of high profile cases have brought attention to something which has always been a “behind closed doors” issue.

It wasn’t that many years ago that it was treated as a private issue.  Husbands beat their wives and children, it was just part of life.  Technically under the law, they were his property and he could treat them as he saw fit.  Fortunately that attitude has mostly gone, but as with many issues, the courts and government policy makers are lagging behind the community.

Here are a few stories, going back up to a decade, which have brought this issue to the forefront of the community’s consciousness.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Maribyrnong River Body Identified.

After releasing pictures of a distinctive devil tattoo, and the discovery of more body parts, police have been able to establish the identity of the victim.  The victim is believed to be a male in his 30s.

Further details have not been released yet.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Gruesome find in the Maribyrnong River

Yesterday afternoon a passer-by found an arm floating in Melbourne's Maribyrnong River.  Police later found another limb and a bag of what appears to be flesh.  Police have deemed this find suspicious.   Really?!? 

I'll update when more information is released.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Henry Keogh's ongoing nightmare.

Henry Keogh at his arraignment yesterday.

Henry Keogh has just been charged with murder.  Again.  He was first charged in 1994 after the death of his fiancĂ©e Anna-Jane Cheney.  Henry was found guilty and sentenced to 26 years in prison in 1995.  The conviction was overturned on December 19th 2014.

The overturning of the conviction was hard fought.  Henry’s legal team first lodged a petition in 2002, with the primary issue revolving around the autopsy.  Henry’s legal team presented material that the chief forensic pathologist, Colin Manock, had misinterpreted the autopsy, and thus presented incorrect evidence at the trial.  A 2007 appeal was dismissed, but a fourth appeal to the Governor of South Australia finally produce a result.

Anna-Jane Cheney

Henry’s case was picked up by Channel 9, with a story on Sixty Minutes in 2011.
Anna-Jane died in the bath, and thus the case became known as the “Body in the Bath” case in the media.

The crucial evidence presented during the trial was four bruises found by Colin Manock on Anna-Jane’s calf.  Manock testified at the time that the bruises happened peri-mortem, that is during death. The prosecution insisted that these were proof that the accused held Anna-Jane under the water: “If those four bruises on her lower left leg were inflicted at the same time, and that time was just before she died in the bath, there is no other explanation for them, other than a grip. If it was a grip, it must have been the grip of the accused. If it was the grip of the accused, it must have been part of the act of murder.”

Manock also proprosed a method of drowning which would have been impossible – the bath was against a wall, preventing his theory from being possible.  The attacker would have been standing in a wall.  Other experts testified that they believed the method of death to be accidental.

However, the prosecution also had evidence of a motive.  Henry had taken out five life insurance policies on Anna-Jane.  Henry, however, had an explanation for this: he had begun working as an insurance agent because he feared he was about to be laid off from his job at the State Bank.  To keep his licence current with the agencies, he took out policies in Anna-Jane’s name.  The problem was he got her to sign two of them, but he signed the others in her name.

Further issues with Henry’s character were discovered when it was revealed that he had been cheating on Anna-Jane.  With two other women.

However dodgy financial practices and philandering do not make you a murderer.  Many legal experts have voiced opinions in Henry’s favour.

Henry has been arraigned yet again to stand trial for the murder of Anna-Jane.  I’ll keep you posted.

Gable Tostee: Playboy murderer?

Gable Tostee, aka Eric Thomas

Named after Clark Gable, Gable Tostee has now moved away from his distinctive name, changing his name by deed poll to the more mundane Eric Thomas.

This is probably for the best, because the “sleazy”, “odd” and “creepy” Tostee doesn’t seem to possess the charm and grace of his old namesake.

Gable Tostee came to national attention when a woman he met via the dating app Tinder, Warriena “Rrie” Wright, died after plunging from his 14th story balcony.  Twenty six year old Rrie was on holiday in Australia from her native New Zealand when she died on August 7th 2014.  Tostee claims he was not on the balcony with her, however neighbours heard arguing, and then heard Rrie scream “No, no, no… Just let me go home”.  One witness described the fear in the scream as sickening.

Rrie Wright

Queensland police charged Tostee with murder the next day after he turned himself in.  Police have audio recordings which supposedly contain evidence of a drunken argument between the suspect and the victim.

Tostee has boasted online about more than 150 sexual encounters, including sex on his balcony.  He would go out four or five times a week, and often drink water while trying to pick up intoxicated girls.  Of course this does not make him guilty of murder. 
Other women Tostee contacted through Tinder reported he sent a message which read: Roses are Red, Violets are Blue.  I have a gun, get in my van.  While this may be in poor taste, this also does not make him a murderer.

Whilst on bail for the murder charge, Tostee has been jailed for 10 months for an unrelated drunken high speed cross-border police pursuit in his father’s car.  The chase occurred two weeks before the death of Rrie.

A recently posted picture of Tostee and an alpaca.  The alpaca could not be reached for comment.

Tostee has changed lawyers several times since August.  His next court appearance is scheduled for March 13th.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Twenty Nine Years ago today: The horrific murder of Anita Cobby.

The murder of Anita Cobby has haunted Australia for 29 years.  Anita was a registered nurse, and a former beauty pageant winner.  She was a strikingly beautiful girl, who could have been anyone’s sister, neighbour, friend.  But a pack of inhuman animals killed her on February 2nd 1986.  Five men, including three brothers, took her life in the most brutal way imaginable.

Twenty-six year old Anita worked in Sydney and commuted to her home in the suburb of Blacktown.  On the day of her death she had finished her shift at the hospital at 3pm, and then met friends for dinner in Redfern, another suburb of Sydney.  Usually she caught the train to Blacktown station, then called her dad to come pick her up.  That night the public phone was out of order, and there were no taxis around, so Anita decided to walk home.

Around 10pm, as Anita walked along Newton Road Blacktown, a car with five men in it pulled alongside her.  Two men jumped out and dragged Anita, kicking and screaming, into the car.  Two kids in a house nearby heard the screaming and witnessed Anita being forced into the car.  The eldest, a thirteen year old boy, tried to run to her rescue, but he was too late.  He ran home and phoned the police.  When his older brother came home, he explained what he had witnessed, and the older brother went searching for the car.  He found it, but it was empty, and he believed he was looking for a different model car.  The killers later admitted they were hiding in the long grass nearby.

After nearly being caught with their victim, one of the killers slit her throat so deeply he nearly decapitated her.  She was conscious for at least 3 minutes as she bled to death.  Her body was found two days later and extensive bruising was evident, on top of the fatal injuries.  She had been repeatedly raped, beaten and had her fingers broken.  Anita had truly suffered before she had died.

Police offered a $50,000 reward for information, and staged a re-enactment of Anita’s movements using a police officer dressed in similar clothing.   They received a tip which led to the arrest of John Travers, Michael Murdoch, and Les, Michael and Gary Murphy.  They all had a history of violence, and Travers had a history of carrying a knife. 

While in custody Travers requested a friend be called so that she could bring him in some cigarettes.  Police spoke to the friend first, and she agreed to help with the investigation.  She wore a recording device while talking to Travers and obtained a confession.  All five were charged with murder. 

The five accused had over fifty prior convictions between them.  While most offences are committed by someone known to the victim, this was different.  This was a pack of five strangers who showed their victim no mercy.  Blacktown was reeling.  Australia was reeling.  Many people called for the reintroduction of the death penalty.

Travers pleaded guilty before the trial commenced in 1987.  The trial of the remaining 4 lasted 54 days, with their defence relying on convincing the jury that they only had minimal involvement.  They were all found guilty.  Justice Alan Maxwell put it beautifully when he said “One of the most horrifying physical and sexual assaults. This was a calculated killing done in cold blood. The Executive should grant the same degree of mercy they bestowed on their victim.”

Anita’s parents were incredibly strong in the face of such awful circumstances.  They founded the Victims of Homicide Support Group.  Her sister Kathryn continues to advocate for an end to violence against women.

Today, is the 29th anniversary of Anita's death. Her sister Kathryn, along with the investigating police officer, is holding a public memorial to honour Anita.  While we can’t all attend the memorial, much of Australia is there in spirit.