Australia needs a Criminal Cases Review Commission says leading forensic pathologist Prof Stephen Cordner

Marking the 40th anniversary of the night Lindy Chamberlain’s baby Azaria was taken by a dingo from the family tent at Uluru (August 17, 1980) sparking Australia’s best known miscarriage of justice, leading forensic pathologist Professor Stephen Cordner is quoted in John Silvester’s Naked City column (The Age, August 22, 2020) calling for a Criminal Cases Review Commission. 

Silvester writes: “Professor Stephen Cordner is no alarmist, but he is ringing the alarm bell. After examining available evidence, he believes we have wrongly convicted people who are not given a fair chance to clear their names.

“As a hands-on forensic pathologist, Cordner gathered medical evidence in between 10 and 20 murder cases every year in Britain and Australia for more than 30 years.

Professor Stephen Cordner (Photo: Jason South)

“At one stage, he was conducting 700 autopsies a year and his findings were vital in criminal investigations. His work included the Black Saturday bushfires, the 2002 Bali bombing and the Fukushima earthquake, plus war crimes missions to Iraq and Kosovo.

“The former director of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine says if we could get it so horribly wrong in the nation’s highest-profile criminal case, how do we know it isn’t happening regularly now?

‘‘We don’t know how many innocent people have been banged up,’’ he says.

“Cordner has reviewed methods of dealing with wrongful convictions and argues we make it too hard to have a false conviction overturned and statistics indicate there are innocent people denied justice.

“And we do get it wrong.

“In 2007, Peter Smith was released after serving 12 months when police admitted he had been falsely charged with murder.

“In 2009, Farah Jama was released after serving 15 months for rape, convicted on faulty DNA evidence for a crime that was subsequently found not to have occurred. (Ed: and many more examples …)

“Cordner says too often the world of politics clashes with the world of justice. ‘‘Until very recently, it was close to impossible in Australia to get your case back into the courts after completion of all appeals. Essentially, if you still knew you were innocent, you had to convince your state attorney-general to send your case back to the courts.’’

“England took the responsibility of reviewing potential unjust convictions away from politicians more than two decades ago, establishing the Criminal Cases Review Commission in 1995. It has sent 673 cases back to the courts; 452 convictions have been overturned.

‘‘It shows we should not be complacent,’’ Cordner says. ‘‘Australia needs a Criminal Cases Review Commission similar to the English one.

‘‘Scotland has such a mechanism, as does Norway. New Zealand’s Criminal Cases Review Commission opened its doors on July 1 this year. When will Australia do likewise?’’

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10 Responses to Australia needs a Criminal Cases Review Commission says leading forensic pathologist Prof Stephen Cordner

  1. Linda Barry says:

    My partner has being wrongfully convicted for murder, sentenced to 24 years with 19 years before parole.
    We are about to go down the appeal road, but if that is unsuccessful, there is no where left to turn

  2. owen allen says:

    But it must be understood, this is not a personal thing with all police, obviously, but a culture. I can identify a police officer who assaulted me, yet I did not know his identity or even in fact if he was a police officer until months after the event, because he was a detective.

  3. owen allen says:

    I do not think I have mentioned at this org; but in the 90’s when our battle was extreme, we had a meeting with a very senior politician, who stated that, Tasmania Police Force was too corrupted to do anything about. Now that man needs to come out.

  4. owen allen says:

    Why am I here now? Because I can not stop thinking and thinking and planning and trying to understand.
    I just can not understand why these people do what they do.
    The “Tasmania Way” is recognized in print by the Mercury with regards to a story of the Mayor at the time, Sue Hickey, of being bullied.
    I am a victim, as is Sue Neil-Fraser and no doubt countless others.
    For some reason in Tasmania people would rather go with the flow and say nothing or lie, than speak truth. I believe this is from fear.
    My experience can expose this, I lived through 2 case studies and it is more than just a sociological problem.
    It is systemic corruption in an island state. A MAFIA no less.
    I again call on THE FEDS. Protect people in Tasmania.

  5. owen allen says:

    Peter, I have been on this case since 1990/91. I can not leave off, and you inspire me to keep going.
    you wrote; “If anyone in power has enough goodness in their personality to create a CCRC,”
    It may be up to us. You and me. And people who want to join us to bring it on.
    Eve and Colin and Andrew and Robert, they are doing all they can.
    It is, up to us; the numbers, the people, the masses;

  6. Rosemary Phelps says:

    The one simple thing that an honest community would want. Also the one thing that a dodgy trial is afraid of, what it might reveal. How many times over the years have we heard re the trial and conviction of Sue Neill-Fraser in Tasmania from the Commissioner of Police etc that they stand by the investigation. If they really were that confident they would welcome a Criminal Case Review to back them up. Every effort to get a review/Inquiry up has been blocked. Why?

  7. owen allen says:

    Who cares anyway.
    I do.
    I have hated injustice and evil from a young age. Indoctrinated perhaps by reading history of WW2 and how fascists dictate.

    • Peter Gill says:

      Owen – I think most of the people out there do care – if only they knew what’s going on. Your case sucks. Thanks to this website, more of us know about that now.

      That’s an example of why I think this Wrongful Convictions website is so important – Australia used to lack both a Website Discussing Wrongful Convictions and a CCRC. We now have the first and desperately need the latter. If anyone in power has enough goodness in their personality to create a CCRC, it would get them many votes (mine, for one). I could name at least ten imprisoned Aussies whose cases that should go to Australia’s CCRC.

      • owen allen says:

        We are not fools, or spools in the water whirl you jokers.
        We are ANZAC children.

        I can not wait for the truth to come out Peter.
        My case consolidates SNF culture of arrogance and ignorance.
        Release Sue Neil-Fraser NOW.
        Thanks Peter.

      • owen allen says:

        Thanks to this website, more of us know about that now.

        Thanks to this website Peter, I am reclaiming my mind. They sent me mad, I lost my mind.

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