Henry Keogh and the stonewall of justice

By Andrew L. Urban.

This is how it was reported in The Adeliade Advertiser: “In a Supreme Court hearing this morning (May 1, 2015) the highly controversial (Henry Keogh) case was listed for trial beginning on March 8, 2016.

Director of Public Prosecutions Adam Kimber, SC, said he could not comment on the case beyond confirming a trial date had been set.”

The last sentence is the key to why Henry Keogh is being tried for murder – for the third time – and why it is almost a whole year away. It means the South Australian operators of the legal system can keep hiding behind the trial date to avoid being questioned on this outrageous, indefensible decision by Kimber.

It was a purely circumstantial case; Keogh was sentenced to life for the murder of his 29 year old fiancée Anna-Jane Cheney. On March 18, 1994, they had had a pleasant evening out, over some wine (the autopsy showed her blood alcohol level at 0.1, a matter not raised in the legal proceedings) and potato wedges. While he went to briefly visit his mother, Anna-Jane relaxed in her bath. When he returned she was dead. Keogh tried urgent CPR after calling the ambulance, but Anna-Jane could not be revived.

The appeal court earlier this year called the forensic evidence of discredited Dr Colin Manock “unwarranted speculation”, and accepted the contrary forensic evidence of four experts that it was an accident, not a murder.

Justice is certainly not what this third trial is about. It looks more like a perverted vendetta against Keogh, who has already served 20 years in jail for a crime that he did not commit, indeed, did not happen, as the appeals judges found just a few weeks ago. Or … it is a way to keep the disgrace of this injustice under wraps.

It is surely an abuse of process, a cynical attempt to try and keep a lid on what is one of the most grevious miscarriages of justice in Australia, and the DPP has invoked a cone of silence by announcing a trial. The decision to retry Keogh is at odds with the appeal judges’ finding that Keogh’s fiancee was not murdered at all. She died accidentally and the forensic evidence that played a key role in his conviction effectively ridiculed ( in the most polite legal language, of course). Yet these learned friends extended a face saving option for the state’s terrible mistake by contradicting themselves and letting the DPP choose to retry Keogh if he wished. The absence of logic and the absence of legal grounds notwithstanding, the DPP has chosen to do so, and it appears to a rational observer that it is because it means never having to say sorry… Or anything else. Sub judice it stays.

And nobody can do anything about it. This in 21st century Australia. Democracy is the poorer for it.

The chain of events here exposes the cynicism of the practitioners, the absence of transperancy and sincerity as well as the self serving agenda of the criminal justice system which is unwilling to admit and correct its mistakes. Thus it is dammned to repeat them.

On the positive side, Keogh now has a chance (at great psychological and physical cost) to have his convicton quashed at the new trial, not merely set aside, his name cleared and his legal pursuers embarrassed. They – all those who are responsible for this retrial – should be shamed out of the profession, frankly.

(This article is not available to readers in South Australia for legal reasons.)

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