‘Unreasonable and obsessive’: Police doubts over key witness in Keli Lane case

A cache of internal NSW Police reports about the controversial Keli Lane case reveals damning findings about a key prosecution witness and his history of serious complaints against the force.

The ABC’s Exposed program has been investigating one of Australia’s most notorious crimes — the disappearance of baby Tegan Lane and the controversial murder trial of her mother Keli.

The confidential police reports, seen by the ABC, were written several months before Lane’s 2010 murder trial began, but none were disclosed during the trial or included in the NSW Police Disclosure Certificate list of evidence.

In the most extraordinary revelation, multiple internal reports written by a senior detective found a key prosecution witness was “unreasonable” and “obsessive”, and that many of his theories about the case were baseless and “unreasonable”.

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Doubts Raised In Case Of Man Found Guilty Of Murdering His Baby Son And Two Adults

A man convicted of murdering his baby son, former partner and another man in a horrific 2006 house fire is having his claim of innocence investigated by an Australian organisation that looks at wrongful convictions.

Errol Graham Hayes was found guilty in 2007 of murdering his 18-month-old son Joshua, his former partner Theresa Marchetti, 32, and her new partner Mark Christensen, 39, at Annerley in Brisbane’s south.

The three victims died from smoke inhalation and their bodies were found together on a double bed in the front bedroom of the house, which was largely destroyed in the blaze.

The Crown argued at trial that Hayes was motivated to set the house fire by jealousy over Marchetti and Christensen’s relationship.

He was sentenced to six years for arson and three terms of life imprisonment for the murders, with a non-parole period of 24 years and six months.

More than a decade later, the conviction is being investigated by the Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative (BOHII), a joint project of the Bridge of Hope foundation and RMIT University in Melbourne.

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Melbourne boxer 'wrongly convicted' of murder fights to clear his name

In 2010, the Victorian Court of Appeal rejected Baker's application to appeal his conviction. The High Court granted him leave to appeal his conviction in 2011, but dismissed that appeal in 2012.

Now, RMIT University's Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative, which campaigns to clear the names of people it believes have been wrongly convicted of crimes, has taken up Baker's case.

It has appealed to Victorian Attorney General Jill Hennessy for judicial mercy, asking her to refer the case to the Court of Appeal, "with a view to an acquittal".

Director Michele Ruyters said she believed Baker had "an exceptional case for an acquittal".

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Shock revelations police withheld evidence in Keli Lane case spark calls for royal commission

There are calls for a royal commission into police nondisclosure after stunning revelations that thousands of secretly recorded intercepts were withheld from Keli Lane’s defence team at her murder trial.

Last night the investigative team behind the ABC’s Exposed documentary revealed NSW Police secretly recorded up to 2000 of Lane’s conversations via phone intercepts and listening devices placed in her home between 2004 and 2008.

Yet only around six per cent of those recordings were disclosed or handed over to Lane’s lawyers during her five-month trial.

Read more here

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Keli Lane trial judge calls for investigation into withheld police recordings

Tonight on the 7.30 Report, more details will emerge about the police investigation into the disappearance of Tegan Lane. Despite our repeated attempts to obtain the thousands of missing phone and intercept listening device recordings, the police have maintained that their release is not in the public interest. Given the recent attention on the integrity of Keli Lane's conviction, Dr Ruyters argues that the release most certainly is in the public interest, stating "Justice requires a complete investigation. And a complete investigation is access to and release of all of the material. Not just a selection of it."

Read more here before the update tonight on the 7:30 report.

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Ethical dilemmas and the true crime podcast

In his radio debut, our manager Dr Greg Stratton featured on 3CR’s Communication Mixdown last week on Monday the 25th of February. In conversation with Patrick Stokes from Deakin University, he spoke about the use of podcasts and other long-form media to share stories of miscarriages of justice, and the ‘ethical tensions’ associated with this:

True crime podcasting has turned out to be a hugely popular type of media long-form content. But there are recurring questions about this particular strand of popular culture. Ostensibly based on a miscarriage of justice, are these podcasts merely voyeuristic, exploiting tragedy for the sake of entertainment and missing the voice of victims?

These ethical tensions are explored in the edition of Communication Mixdown with Associate Professor of Philosophy at Deakin University, Patrick Stokes, and Dr. Gregory Stratton from the Justice and Legal Department at RMIT who manages the Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative.

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When the law convicts an innocent person

The law has rules of engagement about the kinds of evidence that can be heard by a jury or trier of fact.  These rules of evidence are there to make sure the trial process is fair for the parties involved but sometimes, they can prevent the jury from hearing very significant information.  

In 2008, young champion boxer Khalid Baker was convicted of murder of a young man who tragically fell from a first-floor window at a warehouse party.   

Khalid and his co-accused LM were leaving the party with another friend when an altercation broke out with the victim.  

Khalid was convicted despite admissions made by his co-accused to the police and other witnesses, and in our opinion, despite evidence indicating it was physically impossible for Khalid to be involved in the fall.  

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Perceptions of exonerees in Australia - New article in collaboration with ECU's Criminal Justice Review Project

Identifying and preventing miscarriages of justice is paramount; however, it is also imperative to consider what happens to exonerees after they have been exonerated in order to better inform their integration back into the community. The present study examines the influence of the type of evidence used to exculpate the accused, and the length of time spent in prison, on public perceptions of exonerees in Australia. The findings reveal that innocent and exonerated individuals are perceived differently to guilty individuals in terms of desired closeness, and do not suggest that exonerees are stigmatised in the same way as guilty individuals may be. Media coverage of the incidence of wrongful conviction is increasing public awareness; however, targeted education regarding the causes and impact of wrongful conviction may assist exonerees’ acceptance once they are integrated back into the community.

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Question on notice for Mark Speakman regarding our call for an inquiry into the investigation, prosecution and conviction of Keli Lane.


Lynch, Paul to the Attorney General

  1. What is your response to the application by Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University Innocence Initiative on behalf of Keli Lane?

  2. When is it anticipated that the application will be determined?

Question asked on 13 November 2018 (session 56-1) and printed in Questions & Answers Paper No. 212. No answer has been printed. Answer due on 18 December 2018.

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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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