Why we love true crime — and how that passion may help our legal system

It's no secret that Australians have a growing appetite for true crime which is seeing us lap up series like The Teacher's Pet, TraceUnravel and Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane

A recent survey by the ABC showed almost half of Australian podcast consumers recently listened to true crime, with the trend strongest among women. 

But why are we so obsessed with these stories? And is that obsession helping us develop a deeper understanding of the justice system? 

RMIT University's Michele Ruyters, who was featured in Exposed, likens our want to solve crimes to the desire to finish a difficult puzzle or crossword.

"At heart I think people really love being detectives," she says.

"There's just something about the innate human curiosity wanting to look at a problem and attempt a solution."

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True crime: an insight into our justice system

More and more true crime podcasts are being made, but are they helping us gain deeper insights into our justice system?

Dr Diane Sivasubramaniam is an associate professor in Psychological Sciences at Swinburne University of Technology.

Dr Michele Ruyters is deputy Dean of Justice and Legal Studies and the Program Manager for the Bachelor of Social Science at RMIT University. She is also the director of the Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative.

Listen here

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Why police and prosecutors don’t always disclose evidence in criminal trials

In the final episode of Exposed, the ABC documentary series on the conviction of Keli Lane, the fairness of her trial was called into question due to admitted flaws in the police investigation.

The Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative, a group dedicated to investigating claims of wrongful conviction in Australia, is examining whether those deficiencies also include a failure by police to disclose hours of recordings to Lane’s defence lawyers.

The failure of prosecutors and police to disclose material that was not used at criminal trials has emerged as a potential cause of wrongful convictions and other miscarriages of justice in cases across Australia.

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Call for an inquiry into the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of Keli Lane

The Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative has been investigating Keli’s claim that she is innocent and we believe that this is a significant case of miscarriage of justice.

The prosecution had provided no evidence of death, no evidence of murder, no forensic evidence that a baby had been harmed at all, no meaningful evidence of motive, and no confession.

In our opinion, Keli’s investigation, prosecution, and conviction represent a gross miscarriage of justice. 

We urge you to sign this petition for a full inquiry

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Protecting the innocent

A collaboration between academics, students, lawyers and the Bridge of Hope Foundation is harnessing the power of the innocence movement to investigate claims of wrongful conviction in Australia.

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Keli Lane: Investigation reveals police never interviewed potential witnesses in murdered baby case

It was one of the major holes in Keli Lane's defence — no witness had ever seen her at the Sydney unit block she claims to have visited multiple times for sex with "Andrew".

Police found no evidence to support Lane's story about an affair with the father of her missing baby, the man she claimed had Tegan.

Now the ABC's new documentary series Exposed has found a former resident who was never interviewed during the police investigation, and who has identified Lane as the "sandy-haired girl" he saw leaving the building on multiple occasions late at night.

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Convicted baby killer Keli Lane’s mission to clear her name

CONVICTED baby killer Keli Lane is on a desperate mission to prove her innocence and she has a growing army of supporters trying to help her clear her name.

Researchers from RMIT University’s Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative have been quietly and painstakingly sifting through hundreds of pages of evidence and trial notes since receiving an impassioned letter from Lane in 2015.

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Exposed: The Keli Lane Tapes

t’s not every day you receive a handwritten letter from a convicted baby killer asking you to reinvestigate their case.

She wanted me to apply an investigative journalist’s blowtorch to her claims, warts and all.

Why? Because Keli Lane says she’s innocent, that Tegan would now be 22 years old, that she’s out there somewhere, and that the man who she handed Tegan over to is out there as well. But Lane has also been found to be a serial liar.

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ABC's Exposed: Was Keli Lane wrongly convicted of murdering her baby?

It is impossible to watch Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane (ABC, Tuesdays 8.30pm from September 25) without thinking of some mighty predecessors – the podcast Serial, the Netflix series Making a Murderer, and HBO's The Jinx among them. Such comparisons could be a curse, but for the most part this three-part Australian true-crime re-investigation holds its own (and suffers far less from the tendency to pad).

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Trailer: EXPOSED: The Case of Keli Lane

Caro Meldrum-Hanna investigates one of Australia’s most notorious crimes: the disappearance of two-day old Tegan Lane and the conviction of her mother Keli Lane of her murder. #ExposedABC: The Case of Keli Lane starts Tuesday 25 September.

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SEX. MURDER. SECRETS. LIES. A missing baby. Her mother behind bars.

Award-winning journalist Caro Meldrum-Hanna in her most gripping investigation yet. In this ground-breaking three-part television event, EXPOSED: The Case of Keli Lane, Caro Meldrum-Hanna investigates one of Australia’s most notorious crimes: the disappearance of two-day old Tegan Lane and the conviction of her mother Keli Lane of her murder.

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Reasonable doubt? A murder in Dandenong

“There are questions around the lack of a forensic link between Boronika and the crime, the several witnesses who are established as being unreliable, the lack of clarity around the quality of the interpretation, and definitely the very big problems about Boronika’s capacity to understand at the start of the investigation,” said RMIT University's Michele Ruyters, who is reinvestigating the case as part of The Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative at RMIT.

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DEALING WITH INJUSTICE IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM

The Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative at RMIT (Innocence Initiative) is one of many organisations in Australia and overseas that have been set up to investigate claims of wrongful conviction in criminal cases.  Some organisations are independent public bodies such as the Criminal Cases Review Commission in the United Kingdom (or the now defunct DNA Review Panel in New South Wales) but the majority are pro-bono groups in the innocence movement.

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