Andrew L. Urban.
A man, without a single other legal blemish, convicted of historical sexual abuse of a little girl in his family, 22 years before, believes he could prove his innocence if the NSW Attorney General advised the Governor to act on his petition and referred his case for a judicial review – as it was recently done for Kathleen Folbigg, convicted of murdering her children. But he has been refused and given no reason.
The man (let’s call him Paul) this month wrote (again) to NSW Attorney General the Hon Mark Speakman as follows:
“You will understand that I feel strongly that I, too, deserve justice. I note that although Ms Folbigg’s petition was submitted three years ago, it wasn’t until just nine days after an investigation into Ms Folbigg’s case was broadcast by the ABC’s Australian Story, (10 August, 2018), that you announced as follows:
“I have formed the view that an inquiry into Ms Folbigg’s convictions is necessary to ensure public confidence in the administration of justice. Today’s decision is not based on any assessment of Ms Folbigg’s guilt.
“The petition appears to raise a doubt or question …
“I ask for equal access to a review. My petition also raises very serious doubts – on several issues. The very same sentiments would apply in my case…
“I do not ask you to form a view as to my innocence, only to permit a proper review of my conviction…
“My life has been decimated, my family has been hurt and my confidence in our justice system has been badly damaged …”
The Folbigg review being seemingly prompted by media exposure (three years after the lodgement of the petition) gives the impression that only when the media spotlight falls on a case that politicians will act. (Ed: Which is one reason why having politicians being involved in the review process is a bad idea.)
When Paul followed up on his petition with his local member three years after it was lodged, the Attorney General replied to the local member: “I confirm that the Governor, on the advice of the Executive Council, has declined to take action in relation to the petition.” No reason was forthcoming. “That lack of transparency is shockingly unfair and very disturbing,” says Paul; “is this Australian justice?”
One of the four broad grounds contained in the 76 page petition is “Serious shortcomings in the summing up given by His Honour the Judge (now deceased), including that I had made “admissions” which is totally incorrect.” (Ed: What could Paul do, yell at the judge?) Lawyers, including the one who prepared the petition pro bono, believe that this fact alone warrants the case being reviewed.
In cross examination, the Complainant had stated: ” .. he didn’t admit to – it was like he was admitting that he made a mistake, but that he was only trying to help me.* So he didn’t actually admit that he was molesting me.“ As to the allegation by the Complainant that I had made admissions to one of the counsellors she was seeing, Paul says it’s also false. “I could not have made such admissions because a) she refused to see me or my wife and b) she would have been duty bound to report me to the Department of Community Services if I had.” (* Paul says he has no idea what she meant by ‘trying to help’ her.)
There are many other grounds detailed in the petition, not least contradictory testimony from the accuser, who was motivated (as an adult) by revenge: she even stated her objective at the start.
There is evidence in the police brief that clears him, Paul claims, and examples of accusations about abuse taking place in a room that didn’t exist at the relevant time.
Paul appealed. In the Court of Criminal Appeal, Adams JA said: “… the evidence of the Complainant … was not so persuasive as to dispel the significant doubts raised by a number of seeming implausibilities and inconsistencies…” yet went on to refuse the appeal.
A conviction of sexual abuse of a minor is “a life destroying crime,” as one of his friends puts it, and “the State must be vigilant to the opportunity for Paul to clear his name.”
Paul says “I want real victims protected, real offenders prosecuted and no more political outcomes to satisfy a public which are conditioned to believe all claims of this nature.” In prison, Paul met other men in similar positions.
In response to our story on Daniel Jones, accused and jailed for rape, and his accuser, Sarah-Jane Parkinson (now convicted of making false statements and jailed for three years), another man – with a similar experience to Paul – wrote the following:
“I have this exact story in my life. I know there must be many of us. I don’t know why I haven’t suicided. I should have I know. Growing old having been branded as scum by everyone who knows me or was once my friend is hard to live with.
“I didn’t have parents like Daniel. They had no resources. I used up all my super and savings and still lost…. there was no detective Sargent (Detective Sergeant Alexander) saviour in my story. I went to prison in maximum too. Rubbing shoulders with murderers and killers beyond comprehension.
“My children raised by a wife who removed me from their lives. Building a narrative about their father the monster. 12 years ago. My children don’t contact me, won’t reply me. I’m dead to them. They have well and truly been washed clean of me as their father.
“All this, because I caught my wife locking our little bubba 4yr old outside while she routinely fucked a family “friend”.
“Discovering that scenario was my greatest mistake. It emptied and ended my life.
I was a highly respected schoolteacher and my life ended in a flash. I know I must not be the only one. There must be many of us.
“For those who want to think this is bullshit. I can say only one thing. I am 100% the loser and I have no hope of redemption such is the gravity of my loss. I can’t get those years back. I can’t get my life back. It’s gone, and I have utterly, no reason to make up anything. I have lost everything but my life and the story that no doubt will die with me. But I must keep good company with history, as so many gone before have not had justice either.
“Released from prison into a society that measures me as a pure monster. I have no money, no home, no friends bar one who stuck by me thru the long years of disbelief.
“I have nothing left as I come out into a world that doesn’t need truth. It just needs winners and losers. I fully accept I am the loser. I lost because I am male. I lost because I unswervingly believed that truth would win. But I was an innocent in those days. I believed justice actually existed. That stupidity alone is enough to make my failure warranted. I deserved to fail as a father and husband.
“Daniel Jones and his family should not be pitied. He and they are the very lucky ones. I can only dream that I could have been so lucky. They are blessed. They can rebuild. I wish I was them. But I’m not so lucky.
“I’m pretty sad that my kids won’t ever know me. That’s a tragedy, but it’s an event my ex wife can never allow. I know it won’t happen. I know my time is short anyhow. Coming out and seeing them has kept me going all these years.
“But now I’m out, finding that they want no contact has frayed the last tether I had on life.
I’m truly lost now.
I play with the idea of writing a story about what happened and how justice found a home in the darkness of a woman’s welcomed and coddled lies. But I think it’s too painful and for what reason would I write it? I’m having trouble seeing the answer to that one.
“There must be tens of thousands of us losers. It’s good to see Daniel Jones spring free from the pit that exists there for all men.
“At least one of us got through ok. I raise my glass to that. Best wishes”